By Noah Goldman, JFGC Israel & Global Jewry Associate
The Yom Kippur War of 1973 stands as one of the greatest traumas in modern Israel’s history, leaving a lasting impact even to this day. At that time, Israel did not anticipate another war, having achieved a decisive victory in the Six-Day War six years earlier, leading them to believe that no country would dare to attack them. However, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, Egyptian and Syrian forces, backed by the Soviet Union, launched unexpected attacks, quickly advancing over Israel’s borders. Although Israel eventually repelled the invaders and reached a ceasefire, both sides suffered heavy casualties. The illusion of military invincibility and the sense of security among Israelis were shattered.
The Valley of Tears is the name that was given to an area in the Golan Heights that was the site of a major battle in the conflict. The hit TV series by the same name, provides dramatic recreations of tank battles in their original Golan Heights locations and present the war from various perspectives, offering a vivid depiction of Israel’s social climate in 1973. But beyond its importance from a historical perspective, the series has been a hit, in part, because of the personal stories it tells. In a Golden Globe interview, co-creator, Amit Cohen says, “Once we were comfortable with reality, then we set out to define the drama. This is not a documentary. It is not even a docu-drama. It is a TV show and we must follow all the dramatic rules which means we want to focus on the characters and their emotional and psychological journeys. We want to tell the story of friendships, being both created and destroyed. “
This October marks the 50th anniversary of the war. In commemoration of this milestone, the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte is hosting a conversation with Amit Cohen on Thursday, Oct. 19. During the program, Cohen will discuss the behind-the-scenes process of creating “Valley of Tears” and share his personal reflections and connection to the Yom Kippur War.
This intense 10-part series, a decade in the making and the most expensive in Israel’s TV history, was released in Oct. 2020 to Israeli audiences and is now available on HBO Max worldwide. The series was titled “Sha’at Neilah” in Hebrew, referring to the final prayer of the Yom Kippur fast, when Jewish tradition believes that people’s fates for the coming year are sealed as the gates of heaven close.
The program is open to all and free of charge. Join us at the Sam Lerner Center for Cultural Arts at Shalom Park on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. to reflect on the war and its legacy, and honor the brave individuals who sacrificed for the defense of Israel. Register at www.jewishcharlotte.org.