Today is Israel’s Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and victims of terror, both of which are included in the same category because there is no difference in the minds of those who want to murder us and drive us into the sea. Besides which, our army is the army of the people. It’s not a “professional army.” Not that they are not professionally trained but it’s an army made up of the whole population whose purpose is to defend the country. This is why it is called, the Israel Defense Force.
So I want to take a little time to contemplate who these people were, focusing on the ones in my little town of Efrat who lived among us and who wanted the Jewish people to live in its land and whose spirit lives on to inspire us to carry on the dream of being a nation with a special mission – to bring God’s love to the world.
If you click on this link you can see their pictures and you can read all about them. Here I will give a bit of a summary and also try to find something meaningful about them to me.
Ori Glick died during army service at the age of 21. He was admired as an officer. He served with utmost responsibility and dedication to the country’s welfare. He was killed in a traffic accident in the course of duty.
Ofir Paveh died during army service at the age of 19. He radiated confidence and stability and it was a pleasure to be in his company. He was selected for paramedic training because of his exceptional abilities. He was killed in a road accident during his paramedic training.
Accidents can happen at any time yet I still feel the national tragedy of it because if we didn’t need to have an army to defend ourselves, army accidents would also not happen.
[The next three people were all killed in the same terror attack.]
Baruch Cohen died in a terror attack at the age of 59. He came on aliyah to Israel from Jarba in Tunisia in 1942. He worked hard his whole life and never gave up in the face of hardship. He was truthful and honest.
On Monday, March 19, 2001 he left to work as usual at 5:50 A.M. Six hours earlier the closure on Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) was removed. Five minutes after he left he was overtaken by a car that contained terrorists. They shot 14 bullets at him. One of his daughters was my daughter’s teacher last year in tenth grade, a wonderfully sincere, engaging, lovely person.
The road Baruch traveled was the same road I continued to travel to Jerusalem every day. So much for lifting closures. Now they have built an ugly wall. Is that the answer?
Sara Blaustein was in the same car and died in that terror attack at the age of 53. Sara was a special person to many people. After coming on aliyah she immediately got involved in many projects studying Torah and doing acts of kindness.
Esther Alvan, also in the car died in that terror attack at the age of 20. Esther was a good friend to girls who were weaker socially. She was also very sensitive to the feelings of others. Her teacher relates that once the class had an activity because of which they didn’t show up to class. The next day the teacher found an anonymous letter on her desk that she later found out Esther had written. It said: “I don’t know what exactly to say about what happened during that class period. I agreed to what we students decided to do, but now I think that if the kids I counsel in the youth group would have done the same thing to me I would have gone crazy. So that’s it. I think that we owe you an apology. We didn’t mean to insult you. I hope you didn’t take it too hard. (signed) Someone who thinks that others think the same way.”
Devorah Friedman died in a terror attack at the age of 45 on the same road from Efrat to Jerusalem, near Neve Daniel. She was a devoted wife and mother and fulfilled the adage to raise children according to their unique natures and needs.
Hagai Lev died in a military operation at the age of 23. He was red-headed and adventurous as a child. In the army he wanted to contribute in the place he was needed most and do as much as he could to help. His unit was sent to search for tunnels used by Palestinians to transport weapons. The soldiers settled in a house in Rafiah and during the night children looked into the windows of the house to try to see what was there. He told the other soldiers not to harm them even though they might blow their cover because “the Israeli army does not harm children.” As they prepared to leave they noticed suspicious movement near the house. Hagai was shot and killed. How many deaths will it take for the world to know that Israel does not wish to kill children and that is why our soldiers are getting killed?
Barak Ozery died during his army service at the age of 23. In 11th grade he was a counselor in the Ariel youth movement and establishes the “Coffee Patrol” that distributed hot drinks to soldiers on duty at their posts. He received many awards for diligence and excellence at his studies. He also excelled in his contributions to social activities. In the army he was made a squad commander until he fell in Gush Katif. He always combined Torah study with kindness. He made friends everywhere he went.
Yosef Goodman died in a military operation at the age of 20. Yosef loved Israel and loved his family. He was amazingly generous and loving to everyone. In a parachuting practice his parachute got tangled with his officer’s. He knew that if he did nothing to untangle them, they both would die. But if he cut the parachute he would die and his officer would live. He cut the parachute. Would I be capable of that? I don’t know. But I think that only someone with deeply ingrained devotion and responsibility to begin with could make such a split second decision.
Yerucham Sagi Baruchi died during army service at the age of 22. He was very sensitive to other people’s distress and did many acts of kindness without telling anyone about it. For years he helped a handicapped soldier clean the house for Passover. Every day he would take care of a certain needy person’s children to give the housewife a rest. For three years he took care of an infant who was born while her father was serving a prison sentence. He would come home from the army exhausted and immediately ask what he could do to help. He stood up for what he believed in and had a good sense of humor, making it easy to get along with him.
After witnessing insufferable harassment of the police against the Jews in Shechem he himself became hunted by the police. He was subjected to terrible harassment because of police corruption but he insisted on standing up for the truth. In the end he broke down from the emotional stress and took his own life but the truth was he died on the battlefield of stinking political correctness. You can read more in the above link. This is an aspect of Israel I would rather not have to report but it must be known and police corruption must be wiped out. More than this, the political echelons that are trying to look good in the eyes of the world are hurting their own people in the process. Yerucham cries out to us for healing and justice to take place. It cannot be only one person against the whole political structure and against the whole world.
Amikam Amior died in a military operation at the age of 21. Amikam touched many people and guided each person in his own special way towards moral values and truth. He loved the desert as a place to think and meditate. Everything was measured according to truth, happiness and spiritual joy.
Avraham David Moses died in a terror attack at the age of 16, gunned down in the midst of studying Torah in school. Avraham David loved to study Torah and he used to go to class without his book of Talmud because he knew it by heart. Not only did he know it. He lived it. As soon as he learned something he immediately absorbed and implemented it into his life. As soon as he learned the virtue of the quality of zerizut (doing things energetically and efficiently) he ran to wash the dishes at home. He often slept in the hallway at the dorm in school so that he could wake up early with his alarm clock to study and not disturb his roommates. His mother Rivkah is my good friend and study partner in Alei Shur.
This is Israel. This is the best information there can be about Israel – knowing who its citizens are and what they stand for. May we be strengthened and inspired by their good qualities. May God who makes peace on high make peace upon us all.