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March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘lone soldier’

A Eulogy for Corporal David Menachem Gordon, (Z”L)

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

I had the privilege to live with Dave for some time, and to say David was like a brother to me would be false. David WAS a brother to me. He looked after me, ensuring to never include me in whatever mischief he would be up to, and always imparting his words of wisdom to me. Very often, it seemed as though he cared more about others than he did about himself. Having David and my brother together made me feel like no harm could ever come to me. I felt safe knowing no matter what happened they would be there to have back or to listen to my problems. And although I may not have fully appreciated his influence then, I will never forget his enduring commitment to me and my well-being.

In his famous expose in the Huffington Post, Dave said “I know I can do something positive for humanity, especially for those who were robbed of their innocence by child abusers. I can offer hope, counsel and guidance to the still-suffering. I can be a leader with a voice.”

It’s inconceivable that these words came from such a young person who had every excuse to live a destructive life. David found that path contemptible – he needed more. So he got his act together and started to speak, share, write, and most importantly, to love. Slowly but surely, he changed his life and the lives of those around him. There are so many lessons we can all learn from his approach. Namely, that there are no obstacles too difficult or problems too big, there are only those who aren’t willing enough to shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make a difference. We all have our own issues, and we must first conquer them. Once we achieve that, then there are no limits to what we can do.

If you would have told me a few years ago that David would be a world-class soldier, prolific writer, and mentor and friend to unfathomable amounts of people around the world, I would think you were mistaken. But David transcended extensive adversity and became a true leader, so who are we to make excuses for our inaction and lack of greatness? We all have the genuine ability to affect the world around us that is just waiting to be unleashed.

I find myself constantly thinking about what I can do to carry on David’s legacy and honor his life. With the help of one of his closest friends and a personal mentor of mine, we came up with an answer. David’s life culminated in being a voice for those who had none, helping others when it seemed like nobody was there for them. He taught us how to overcome our biggest existential and psychological crises, calling an end to silence. It says in Proverbs that “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Solomon 10:11).

This very idea is exactly how David chose to approach his struggles and become not only a survivor, but a rescuer. I implore everyone to continue this process by reaching out to our brothers and sisters all over the world and to encourage honesty and communication. All it takes is simply listening more to others, being sensitive to people’s concerns, reconsidering our roles in the world, and to stop tolerating the intolerable. If we do this, we all have the ability to save lives and ensure that David will be smiling down on us proudly from Heaven.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone who has ever been there for David–Most recently the Ungar and Rome families, the Lone Soldiers Program, and Givati who provided him with homes away from home, here in Israel.

El Al Reunites Parents of Lone Soldiers from ‘Protective Edge’ for Rosh Hashanah

Friday, September 19th, 2014

In a special initiative to enable families to spend the Jewish New Year together, an airlift of 21 flights from El- Al Airlines flying from 10 different international locations, are bringing parents of lone soldiers serving in the IDF to Israel. Flights are taking off from New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Moscow, Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam.

On Thursday, September 18, a flight from Moscow with the first group of parents landed in Israel.

The El-Al Airlines, the Israel Hotel Association (IHA) the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS), the IDF’s Manpower Directorate are all part of the unique project to reunite parents with their sons and daughters who took part in the recent Operation Protective Edge against Hamas.

An event of this scope has never taken place before as 125 parents to 77 soldiers will arrive in Israel in the upcoming few days. “We initiated this project in order to show our appreciation to the lone soldiers, who bravely decided to leave their home country and protect Israel,” said David Maimon, Chief Executive Officer of El-Al Airlines, which provided the parents of lone soldiers with the free flights.

At Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, the lone soldiers waited eagerly for their parents, who are also receiving free accommodation for a five-night stay in hotels that are part of the Israel Hotel Association (IHA).

One mother of a lone soldier, Dovrat Ifis, commented that the most meaningful part of the trip was to spend the Jewish New Year with her son. “The best part is that we get to celebrate Rosh Hashanah together. I can’t put into words how happy I am right now. My heart is pounding with excitement,” she stated.

Ifis is also very grateful for the generous initiative. “The time is just perfect and our soldiers truly deserve it – the time has come to hug them and spend quality family time with them.”

Eli Gonen, President of the Israel Hotel Association noted that his organization has been helping lone soldiers for many years, offering accommodation especially during the Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

“We are supporting the army and soldiers throughout the year,” Gonen stated. “We are opening our hotels and our hearts to the lone soldiers and their families, providing them with a feeling of home and comfort during the holidays.”

The Chairman of the Association of the Well-being of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS), Avigdor Kahalani also added that lone soldiers will always be supported. “The lone soldiers are not alone – AWIS, El-Al Airlines, the Israel Hotel Association and the IDF’s Manpower Directorate are there to embrace them after Operation Protective Edge and just before the New Year, we managed to bring them their loved ones from home.”


Thursday, September 18th, 2014

This Friday will mark the shloshim of Corporal David Menachem Gordon (z”l), the lone soldier who died shortly after returning from serving the Jewish people and the entire Nation of Israel in the most recent war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. No one, I repeat no one, knows why David died-not his closest friends and family, nor the “know-it-alls” that placed him on a post-mortem couch, psycho-analyzed him, and pontificated that his death was due to the emotional traumas he experienced in life. The only thing that is known is that the world shines less brightly without his radiance, the fusion of his breathtaking honesty and integrity. This radiance was expressed in his brilliant smile and brilliant clarity of prose. The boy could write and write well. Anyone who has tried to put pen to paper or, to be less anachronistic, fingers to keyboard, and has read his work was filled with appreciation and yes, more than a touch of envy. David and I spoke a few times and plans were in place for him to join my family for Shabbat. Because it was a date never kept I never met David in person but we were connected through our love for a shared Rebbe, Rabbi C (the “C” of the title) and David’s brother-in-law who is my best friend in Passaic, Aryeh (the “A” in the title). To round out the title, I need a “B.” Potentials: “Bereaved”-as are his friends, family, and fans; besmirched-as was his good name; “Better place”-as where he most certainly resides presently. Perhaps most fitting is Boruch HaShem for those of us who came into contact with him and Boruch Dayan Emet for a neshoma returning to his Maker, the ONLY true Judge. We accept that life and death have many mysteries, so why can’t David’s life be treated as a mysterious and wonderful gift and his passing accorded respect as “unknowable”? Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”? An autopsy is a process viewed by Jewish law as an assault on the emptied vessel of the physical body, a fortiori (kol v’chomer) shouldn’t it be considered an even greater affront when it is the exalted soul that is placed under the attack of cutting words?

Vile and baseless speculation as to the “Why?” of David’s passing has infected the thoughts and rants of many so-called “writers.” One writer in particular arrogated for himself the role of the “Final Word” on the reasons for the death of a beautiful and complicated young man whom he never met in life. His “insight” came without ANY assistance from those closest to David. According to a member of David’s family, the writer did NOT speak to anyone close to David, either family or close friends. In fairness he was not the only person to make this speculation as to the cause of David’s death but while other writers upon communication and clarification with the family were completely apologetic and remorseful, this particular writer not only showed a lack of basic respect for the deceased and his family in his initial column, his subsequent comments in defense of his indefensible claims only exacerbated the anguish of the Gordon family. The writer’s insensitivity persisted and intensified throughout the shiva.

The flurry of words conjecturing on David’s passing brings to mind the following parable on loshon hora. The classic story has the practitioner of loshon hora setting loose defamatory words into the universe damaging the subject of the gossip. The shtetl’s Rav determines that the proper punishment for the guilty speaker is to slash open a feather pillow and in a parallel act to the crime itself, set loose a flurry of feathers. And now he is told he must collect all the feathers, an impossible task. Analogously, retracting and reclaiming all the words dispersed through the media and internet by writers and bloggers defaming David is equally impossible, perhaps even more so because the feathers however numerous are still a finite number while the broadcasting and linkage of words on the internet are infinite, expanding the original statement exponentially.

Defending David Gordon

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

David Gordon spoke up for those who have no voice. It’s time someone spoke up for him.

David Gordon (z"l) on left and the author at his wedding.

David Gordon (z”l) on left, with the author at his wedding


For the past two years, I had the privilege of calling David my brother-in-law. My time with him was short but precious, and it was a blessing to have him in my life. Many of our conversations centered on words. Writing was a passion we shared, and David was a gifted writer, as his loyal readers can attest. I was one of them. His blog, Sparks of David, is a treasure trove of musings on life, philosophy, and spirituality. Each eloquent entry drips with wisdom, wit, and sensitivity beyond his years.

I recall discussions with David about the power of writing. We talked about the responsibility that comes with the pen, its potential to influence and inspire. His landmark 2013 column for The Huffington Post was that very potential fulfilled.

David’s heart-rending account of the sexual abuse that claimed his childhood innocence was a clarion call to fellow victims too afraid or ashamed to voice their pain. Overnight, he became a hero to survivors and an outspoken advocate for their cause. His words transformed lives, and continue to do so now that he’s gone.

But not all words have the power to heal. Some have the potential to harm. And never has that been clearer to me than in the days following David’s tragic death.

Within hours of the news that the search for David had ended with the discovery of his body near his IDF base in central Israel, one word began to insinuate itself into the online conversation:


The word appeared again and again in blog posts, opinion columns, and Facebook comments. It proliferated across the Internet, and readers accepted it as fact. The general consensus was that David had survived the horrors of warfare in Gaza, only to lose his inner battle with unspoken horrors that never stopped haunting him. But all of that ignores one vital truth:

His death has never declared a suicide.

Three weeks have now passed since David’s levaya, and the IDF has yet to announce an official cause of death. The reason is simple: there simply is not enough evidence. If there was, the case would have been closed long ago. And for those intent on building a case for suicide, the few published details don’t seem to add up. (Would someone schedule a wisdom tooth extraction for the same day he planned to kill himself? And how many suicide victims are found with multiple gunshot wounds, instead of a single one?) The investigation continues, and scenarios like accident or foul play have not been ruled out.

Meanwhile, a family devastated by the loss of a son and brother was forced to endure a slew of hurtful speculations. I saw with my own eyes the pain inflicted by commentators who saw fit to martyr David before he was even buried. I shook my head at the hubris of bloggers who claimed to know more than the IDF, Shin Bet, and the immediate family combined.

Mostly, I cried at the blatant disregard for how far David had come in his life.

Suicide is a convenient narrative to explain away such an unbearable loss. Outsiders can be forgiven for connecting the dots from childhood abuse to substance abuse to the final comfort of death. But to those who knew David—the family and friends who agonized with his struggles, celebrated his triumphs, and stood by him as he rebuilt his life—the notion of suicide just doesn’t ring true.

Dear Sean: A Tribute to Sgt. Sean Carmeli, ZT”L

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Dear Sean,

We never met. When the news of your death was spread through the media on Sunday, July 20, with the added detail that you grew up in South Padre Island, Texas, my son called from summer camp to ask if I knew you.

No, I said, I did not.

But in a deeper way, I sense that I do know you. You grew up on South Padre Island, a town known for its beautiful beaches, vacation homes and Spring break revelry. You grew up a proud Jew, one of only 75 in a town of 2800 people. Being part of a small community didn’t weaken your Jewish identity; it reinforced it. The culture around you may have been light and carefree; you were focused and determined. To you, purpose and people-hood were the foundation of identity. The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.

It began with your parents, Alon and Dalya, who came to South Padre Island 20 years ago to pursue financial opportunity. They did well. But finances, to them, were the means not the end. Within a few years, they were part of a nascent Jewish community, searching for tradition, forging a spiritual connection. They were leaders in the group that constructed a synagogue, hired a rabbi, and built a Jewish future on land without much Jewish past. It was your parents who purchased the community’s first Torah scroll and who dedicated the synagogue in memory of your grandfather and namesake. It is clear you absorbed their passion. You developed a strong connection to South Padre’s Rabbi Yonatan and as well as to Rio Grande Chabad shliach, Rabbi Asher Hecht.

Others your age, with your talents, affable personality, mature nature, and ability to get things done, would have channeled that drive to commercial aspirations. That would have been valid, but you decided to go beyond the natural, to do something connected to the essence of who you are, to your Jewishness. You decided to spend your last high school years in Israel and join the Israeli army.

You understood this is a difficult time for our people. You appreciated that the battle of our time is no less significant and foundational than WWII; an epic battle of civilizations. On the one hand stands the Judeo credo of cherishing life, respecting the individual, and worshiping God in a peaceful manner. On the other stands an ideology whose worship celebrates death, who can make no room for other, who is empowered by terrorizing civilians of neighboring states, and who freely puts their own civilians in harms’ way in order to paint themselves as helpless victims, exploiting the sensitivities of Western civilization.

What would be a stark distinction is made blurry by a secular media obsessed with “proportionality” in body count, whose sense of justice requires that both sides suffer equally, who are experts at assessing not the morality of the conflict but the sameness of the destruction. It is an amoral approach that, had it been prevalent during WWII, would have resulted in the loss of the Allies to the Axis. (“So what if the Germans bombed London; most of the English were protected in the Underground. The Allies shouldn’t bomb munition factories near Berlin as some of our bombs might accidentally hit nearby civilians.”) As our sages taught long ago, “One who becomes compassionate to the cruel, will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.”

Dear Sean, you were acutely aware that the battle of the day is as much to protect Israelis as to combat those seeking to delegitimize Israel. What makes it so difficult is that we stand on linguistic putty, in which language means one thing to the enemy and another to those they are convincing. “Free Palestine” resonates to the Western ear; it sounds fair enough. But when shouted by our antagonists it means “from the Jordan to the Sea,” the very destruction of Israel. “End the Blockade” sounds reasonable enough. But the reality of its impact would be allowing Hamas to bring in guided rockets from Iran against which Iron Dome would be impotent.

American-Born Lone IDF Soldier Found Dead

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The body of a 21-year-old Ohio native serving as a lone soldier in the IDF was found on Tuesday, two days after he was reported missing, military spokesmen announced.

Corporal David Menachem Gordon of the Givati Brigade was found with his personal Tabor rifle beside him. He had last been at the Tzrifin army base near Tel Aviv. No details were released concerning where he was found and the cause of his death.

20,000 Attend Funeral of Lone Soldier Sean Carmeli HaYa”D

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Yesterday morning we read about the lone soldier from the small Texas town nobody had ever heard of who had been killed in Gaza trying to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure, Sean Carmeli. Later in the day, emails and facebook messages kept arriving in Hebrew and in English asking that people come to his funeral.

Israel values all of its soldiers; they are our children. Israeli kids are raised knowing that after high school they will be drafted. (I’m not getting into the chareidi draft issue here.) Religious girls frequently take the option to do Sherut Le’umi, National Service and volunteer in all sorts of places, schools, hospitals, memorials etc. Young men who are exempt for various medical reasons quite often petition the IDF to be accepted as official soldier volunteers and get positions suitable for them.

And then there are the new immigrants and foreign IDF volunteers who come to Israel either just to serve or knowing that their choice to be Israeli means that they will be drafted and serve in the army without a mother waiting at home to do their laundry and make sure there’s hot food for them. They are the true idealists, and Sean Carmeli was one of them.

When an Israeli born and raised IDF soldier is killed, his funeral is attended by his family, childhood friends of all members, fellow students and those from the neighborhood and more. Funerals here for whomever, no matter what the reason of death, are usually humongous. Here in Shiloh, a small funeral, quickly arranged on a Friday before Shabbat can have a minimum of fifty to a hundred people, and the larger more public funerals, like the triple one for the three teenagers murdered by Arab terrorists a few weeks ago are attended by hundreds of thousands. Compare that to a very recent funeral in New Jersey for a policeman killed, Fallen Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago laid to rest.

JERSEY CITY – The Jersey City police officer who was shot and killed while responding to a report of an armed robbery was laid to rest today. Hundreds of police officers from around New Jersey and surrounding states came to St. Aloysius Church to pay their final respects to Melvin Santiago.

IDF Staff Sgt. Sean Carmeli was laid to rest accompanied, honored by about 20,000 people.


HaMakom yenachem…
May G-d comfort his family and friends

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/20000-attend-funeral-of-lone-soldier-sean-carmeli-hayad/2014/07/23/

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