web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

From Chupa To Kever: A Soldier’s Journey


July 21 – Five Israeli soldiers were buried today. Among them was Benjy Hillman, 27, the son of one of my oldest friends. Benjy, z”l, was a commander in the elite Egoz unit, who was killed fighting Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon last night.

Just three weeks ago, 600 of us celebrated as Benjy and his long-time girlfriend, Ayala Berger, finally got married after going together for many years. The pure joy of the two families, who’d become good friends over the long on-off courtship, was palpable. Ayala, accompanied by her happy parents and radiant in her beautiful wedding dress, walked down the path toward Benjy, who waited for her under the chupa with his trademark shy smile.

Today, in the military cemetery of his hometown of Raanana, Ayala walked toward Benjy again. This time, however, she was supported by Benjy’s younger brother Shimon and her father, her young face contorted in pain and grief. Instead of approaching the chupa as she did three short weeks ago, she drew close to the simple wood coffin draped with an Israeli flag that held the remains of her new husband.

Benjy and Ayala’s story is a story of the ingathering of the exiles. Ayala’s family emigrated from Argentina around the same time as the Hillmans made aliyah from England, when Benjy was four years old.

Benjy’s mother, Judy, and I were best friends from the time we met when we were 11 years old. We were part of a small group of girls who sat in Kingsbury shul together during the late 1960′s, giggling over the boys, or complaining about our old-fashioned parents. We went to the same youth movement events and parties, and shared the agonies of teenage dating. We spent countless sleepovers in each other’s homes, talking most of the night as we dreamed of our futures.

Even though we belonged to a religious Zionist youth movement, I honestly don’t remember if we ever seriously discussed living in Israel. Those decisions came later.

At Benjy’s wedding a few weeks ago, we huddled with Michelle, a third member of our Kingsbury group, and marveled at the fact that here we all were, almost 40 years later, with all of our kids (except for one of mine) in Israel, celebrating each other’s simchas. We danced like mad at the joy of our continuing connection. Today, just before the funeral, we all fell upon each other in grief, as we tried to assimilate the grim reality.

Thousands turned out to escort Benjy on his last journey. His coffin arrived at the cemetery in an olive green army vehicle. An honor guard of soldiers from his beloved Egoz brigade led the way to his grave as hundreds of his friends hugged each other and wiped their eyes.

The eulogies were exquisitely painful. Each one reflected on Benjy’s modest but strong character and his firm Zionist convictions. Judy winced as one of the rabbis read a paragraph of a letter Benjy had written four years ago to the parents of his friend, Ari Weiss, z”l, who was killed fighting terrorists. Benjy wrote that Ari had died as a hero and would always be remembered that way.

Benjy’s father, Danny, thanked Benjy for bringing so much honor to the family. Benjy’s best friend told Ayala and the Hillmans that he and his friends would make sure they would never be alone, and an Egoz commander told them that they would always be part of the Egoz family.

During the hour-long funeral service, the honor guard stood motionless at attention in the midday sun. Every ten minutes or so, their commander came up behind each one of them with a squeeze of the shoulder, a whispered word of concern, offering a bottle of water.

It took hours for the huge crowd to pass in front of Benjy’s grave and offer their condolences to Benjy’s family.

This Friday evening, please think of Benjy and Ayala when you sing the “bo-ee kallah” verse of the Lecha Dodi prayer that welcomes the Shabbat bride.

And keep in mind all our soldiers who are on the front lines of the fight against terror as they defend the people of Israel.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “From Chupa To Kever: A Soldier’s Journey”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.
‘Hamas Fired from UN School Area and Prevented Evacuation’ Says IDF
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF soldier injured in Gaza is evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital.

The residents of Gaza were not occupied by the Hamas; they voted for the terror organization in democratic elections, by a huge majority, by virtue of its uncompromising struggle against Israel. For this reason, the separation between the armed Hamas terrorists and those ‘not involved’ or ‘innocents’ is false. The Gazans are now paying for […]

Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay is calling for an investigation of Israel's military actions in Gaza. (archive photo)

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

More Articles from Judy Lash Balint
A volunteer at last year's Meir Panim Purim celebration in Israel. 
(Credit: Meir Panim)

According to Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar, “Gifts for the poor [matanot l’evyonim] deserve more attention than the seudah and mishloach manot because there is no greater, richer happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans, widows and proselytes.”

Israelis have a reputation for being frank and direct – dugri, in local parlance. But when it comes to death and dying or dealing with chronic illness, many Israelis have as much trouble dealing with it as do people in any other part of the world.

July 21 – Five Israeli soldiers were buried today. Among them was Benjy Hillman, 27, the son of one of my oldest friends. Benjy, z”l, was a commander in the elite Egoz unit, who was killed fighting Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon last night.

June 29: This afternoon, Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri – son, brother, grandson, yeshiva student, friend – was buried on the Mount of Olives, the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/from-chupa-to-kever-a-soldiers-journey/2006/07/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: