web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth
Yom HaZikaron

Yom HaZikaron: Israeli Families Discuss What it Means to Lose a Soldier, a Son, a Sibling

Israel Defense Forces Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, 20, who was killed on Sept. 21, 2012 while on patrol along the Israeli border with Egypt.

Israel Defense Forces Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, 20, who was killed on Sept. 21, 2012 while on patrol along the Israeli border with Egypt.
Photo Credit: JNS.org

Some 22,000 Israeli soldiers have died since the establishment of the Jewish state, including 40 soldiers between March 2013 and March 2014, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“We in Israel are fighting—and dying—on behalf of every Jew in the world. … We are maintaining a safe haven for every Jew to escape to. Jews in the Diaspora live safer lives and hold their heads higher because Israel and its army exists,” said Chantal Belzberg, executive vice chairman of OneFamily, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of Israeli victims of terror attacks and their families.

On Yom HaZikaron, the fourth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar (sundown on May 4, 2014), Israelis will pay tribute to the country’s fallen soldiers in a solemn day of mourning. On its official Memorial Day, Israel also mourns the loss of civilians who were killed as a result of terrorism.

Among the soldiers killed during these past 12 months was 20-year-old Gavriel Kobi, a combat soldier in the Givati Brigade, who was shot and killed on Sept. 22, 2013 by a Palestinian sniper while on guard duty outside Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs. Also killed were 18-year-old Eden Atias, stabbed in the neck on Nov. 11, 2013 while on a bus in the northern Israeli city of Afula, and 31-year-old Shlomo Cohen, a Petty Officer 1st Class in the Israeli Navy, who was fatally shot by a Lebanese sniper while driving near the Israel-Lebanon border fence in an unarmored military vehicle. Cohen was on operational duty on Dec. 15, 2013 at the time of his death.

OneFamily’s Belzberg said that when a young soldier is killed, it has a “radically shocking, traumatic and debilitating” effect on the soldier’s parents and family.

“Siblings suffer tremendously, but not as deeply as a mother losing her son, the son she bore, nursed, dressed, walked to school, took to his school’s football practice and whose game she watched proudly,” Belzberg told JNS.org. “Siblings suffer because they don’t just lose a brother; they also lose their mom and dad. … They wallow in their grief and have no energy to care for the living. The dead child occupies a lot more time than a living one.”

Yehudit Rotenberg, whose son Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg, 20, was killed January 7, 2011 by a stray Israel Defense Forces mortar shell in an incident near the Gaza border, still remembers the day she learned of her son’s death. The family had seen a report on a border incident in which four soldiers were injured.

Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg, 20, who was killed January 7, 2011 by a stray IDF mortar shell in an incident near the Gaza border.

Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg, 20, who was killed January 7, 2011 by a stray IDF mortar shell in an incident near the Gaza border.

“It was a Friday night,” Rotenberg recalled. “We learned of the incident at around 6:10 p.m. I was worried, but I didn’t believe he could have died. They said there were injuries on the news. Eating Shabbat dinner was very stressful; it was hard to eat the food. … We kept thinking he would call, that he would tell us he was OK. … Then there was a knock at the door, and we saw an army uniform collar through the window.”

She said the hardship, the emotion, came quickly.

Avital Yahalomi has a similar story. Her brother, 20-year-old Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, was killed on Sept. 21, 2012 while on patrol along the Israeli border with Egypt. Three heavily armed terrorists attempting to infiltrate Israel attacked the soldiers. One terrorist was wearing a suicide belt, which went off during the battle.

Cpl. Yahalomi was a deeply religious solider and a Zionist; three Jewish books were found on his body after his death. His sister, Avital, told JNS.orgthat her brother dreamed of being the strongest and best combat soldier. He was upset when he learned that because he wore glasses, which reduced his profile, he could not join the unit of his choice, but instead would be part of the Artillery Corps. This knowledge, however, put his family more at ease. They knew he was on the Egyptian border, but they assumed that he was safe there.

“In general, we have peace with Egypt,” Avital said, noting that her brother was careful about what he told the family, never wanting to worry them.

On the afternoon of Cpl. Yahalomi’s death, his family was preparing for Shabbat at their home in Nof Ayalon, near Modi’in. When an IDF representative came to deliver the news, then 9-year-old Yitzchak opened the door.

“He didn’t know what was happening,” Avital said. “He thought they were coming to kick us out of our home and he called to mother. My father was in the shower. … One by one we learned what happened. Then we all just sat on the couch and we cried and cried. This is something that never goes away. It will never go away.”

“When you say goodbye to your son as he gets on the bus with all of the new soldiers, you’ve offered up your son as a potential sacrifice to the country,” explained Belzberg. “Your heart sinks. The worst may happen. But most parents say to themselves, ‘It won’t happen to me.’”

She added, “Then, in the middle of the night, there’s a knock at the door. … Three soldiers stare sadly into your eyes. Your worst nightmare has happened. Your son is dead. You scream and your whole body shakes. You collapse.”

But you have no choice except to go on. Today, Nadav Rotenberg’s younger brother is in his second year in the army. The first year, said Yehudit Rotenberg, “I worried a lot.” Yet she is also very proud.

“These are brave children,” said Rotenberg. “Even though I lost a child, I still believe the army is very important and we have to support it.”

Avital Yahalomi has similar ideas. “I am happy to be Israeli, even though it cost me so much. … I plan to stay here, to raise my children here, to send them to the army to defend my country,” she said.

“Yom HaZikaron is about remembering a larger family, about saying to each bereaved family that their child, the apple of their eye, is remembered,” said Rebecca Fuhrman, manager of marketing and communications for OneFamily. “Their loss is our loss.”

For a full listing of soldiers (in Hebrew) who died between last Yom HaZikaron and this one, visit http://www.izkor.gov.il/Sipurim_Search.aspx. For a list of soldiers and victims of terror killed in 2013, visit https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/victims.html#2013.

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.

12 Responses to “Yom HaZikaron: Israeli Families Discuss What it Means to Lose a Soldier, a Son, a Sibling”

  1. All the moms n dads have my deepest condolences. I have lost a husband n a son. U don’t know the pain of someone else till u walk a mile in their shoes. God Bless Israel n God Bless the Jewish People.

  2. Kay Xiarras says:

    Baruch Dayan Ha’emet :'(

  3. God bless you all, Israel.

  4. Deep Condolocense… Very sad.

  5. my heart and prayers go out to every family who has lost their Loved ones, shalom shalom!

  6. Courage in your Nation is the best thing in your country.

  7. Sherri Smith says:

    Our American families know all to well what it is to loose a son, daughter, sister, brother, friend, Mother or Father fighting for our freedom. Our prayers are with you!

  8. GOD BLESS THEY SOULS AMEN

  9. Lina Deza says:

    Sad! My condolences to the affected families. Be strong and God bless Israel!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Indepth Stories
hurva

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

jabotinsky with sword

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama Racine

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

More Articles from Maayan Jaffe

More than four months after the end of the conflict, but still early in the grieving process, the bereaved families are working to pick up the pieces.

Alan Gross

Obama’s new attitude, as Gleijeses sees it, may have implications for the U.S. role in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“My tears choose the side of peace,” she wrote. “We are tired to hear about more killings. We are tired to run every time we the sirens…. Don’t judge, pray. Pray for this to be over.”

Being a parent during war, Day said, means putting your own needs and wants aside. It also means being prepared.

Creating communities without walls has been a secret to Chabad’s success.

Some 22,000 Israeli soldiers have died since the establishment of the Jewish state, including 40 soldiers between March 2013 and March 2014, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/yom-hazikaron-israeli-families-discuss-what-it-means-to-lose-a-soldier-a-son-a-sibling/2014/05/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: