Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’
The daughter of Rabbi Chaim Yechiel Rothman, z’l was among the speakers Tuesday night at a special memorial ceremony for bereaved families organized by the OneFamily organization in Jerusalem.
Yaffa Rothman’s father was one of a number of English-speaking rabbis who were slaughtered in a bloody terror attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood on November 19, 2014. But Rothman’s father did not die right away: Somehow his condition stabilized, and he hung between life and death for nearly a year until finally succumbing to his wounds in November 2015.
His daughter Yaffa spoke of her love for her unique father in the following text, translated into English:
The first time we met was in the car, on the way to the hospital.
You drove fast
And Mom was having contractions.
I, as usual, could not hold back, and defiantly came into this world.
You immediately stopped the car, and helped Mom deliver me.
You were the first to touch me.
You hugged me with warmth,
And you covered me with your black jacket.
I was always “Daddy’s Girl”
Friday night after Shalom Aleichem and Eshet Chayil, you would give all the children a blessing, from the oldest to the youngest.
You would bless me that I should be “like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah” and then you would give me a kiss, and I would shy away
From both the kiss and the blessing.
I loved the Shabbat Zemirot.
You would sometimes fall asleep in the middle of the song,
But I miss that atmosphere.
I remember the Shabbatot in the summer when you would take me to the garden
Yet, instead of resting, you would push me on the swing.
And then I had a turning point.
I left the path that you taught me.
It was tremendously painful for you.
You sought counsel with rabbis and scholars
In order to save me from punishment in the World to Come.
And I kicked, and didn’t want your path.
I wanted freedom.
I thought independently.
And you included me.
You loved me and believed in me.
With your hat and your suit, you would proudly boast about me.
On Shabbat after the meal, you would suggest that we go for a walk.
We would stroll around the neighborhood
And with a smile and appreciation, you would declare that I am your daughter.
When I came to work in your office during vacations,
I came wearing short clothes that in no way resembled religion.
Everyone would ask me with wonder “You are the daughter of Chaim Rothman”?
And I would answer yes, with pride.
You introduced me to your boss,
And with a gleam in your eye you told him
That one day I would manage a successful company
And support 100 kollel students.
That’s not the only time you believed in me.
You always encouraged me,
Even when I didn’t believe in myself.
You were always there for me.
The night before my world was destroyed,
You called me as you normally did.
I was in the middle of work, so we didn’t talk for long.
Everything felt normal.
Nothing would change.
From the next day,
Nothing remained as it was.
I was far away, in a sweet dream, when it happened.
An hour’s drive from your city,
And when I got up and heard what had happened,
I was hit with panic.
It was at the synagogue during prayers.
You were in the middle of the Amidah.
Wrapped in your tallit
And your tefillin.
Oy, the tefillin were still on your head and arm.
The prayer of that morning you didn’t manage to finish.
They said that you felt the need to fight.
The cries of “Shema Yisrael” from your friends you heard
Until you lost your consciousness.
And there, as you lay in your blood on the floor,
The rescue services found you.
They resuscitated you
And managed to delay the end by a year.
For almost a year you lay in the hospital unconscious
The entire family, and the whole community surrounded you.
You heard them reciting Tehillim,
But you didn’t react to the treatments from the doctors.
A year passed over me without sleep
A year in which I never believed your end would come.
I believed with all my heart that you would get up and come back
To hug me and my pain.
I visited you often,
I sat close
And held your hand.
I told you about everything that happened.
I asked you questions expectantly,
An expectation that was not answered.
I learned in that year
How much I love you
The arguments, the anger
And the difference in our paths
Did not distance us.
On your last day, I heard the Viduy of the ten who prayed
They took their leave of you in prayer
And sent your soul to its salvation.
I took my leave with thanks, and begging for forgiveness.
They had already completed their prayers
And I kissed you
For the last time.
At the funeral
The important rabbis stood on the podium.
They said that everything happened from God
That we need to be strong and to repent.
And I sat at your feet
That they didn’t let me eulogize you.
But you are my father,
Not their father.
You raised me
You loved me
And I am the one they didn’t allow to tell the world how much
I love you back.
I looked for someone who would remind me of you.
A person who would fill the void you left.
I frequently stayed with a family
That took me in to their embrace.
But, when the father hugged his daughters,
My heart was pinched with pain.
And now, I am still looking for a way to mourn
Afraid to fall and to break
Understanding that I will find you only within myself.
And doing everything to strengthen myself.
On this day,
I think about the future.
In another month, I will be in uniform
And the doubt arises in me.
Had you been alive,
Would you escort me to my enlistment?
Would you take me on my first day to the induction center?
Would you hug me and take your leave only for a while?
Would you give me your blessing?
Would you ignore the slogan,
“Better for a person to die than to send his daughter to the army”?
These questions give me no rest
I will never be able to know your answer
And I lack your approval
Took you from me.
I want to believe that you would keep me in your heart
And wish me success.
And every time that I see a person dressed in a suit
I remember your hug
Wrapped in your suit
Just like in my first moments.
Wednesday morning at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told families who lost their loved ones defending the nation lf Israel, “on this day all of the People of Israel feel this agony with you.”
In Israel, he said, “The boys and girls who defend our nation along with their families should feel pride” for their sacrifice to their country.
But he also said, “We members of the bereaved families do not need Memorial Day to remember our loved ones who fell… on this day the entire nation is with us in an embrace and with love.”
Netanyahu himself has lost more than one person who was dear to him. His older brother Yoni was killed in the line of duty while on a mission rescuing hostages at Entebbe airport. He also told those gathered at Mount Herzl about two comrades killed in action: Zohar Ben Linik and David Ben Hamo.
The prime minister said his memory of his friend David dying of his wounds as he held him in his arms will never leave him. Decades later, when he went to visit David’s family in Be’er Sheva, he saw how his mother had left his friend’s room exactly as it had been on the day he died, he added.
Netanyahu also spoke about a more recent encounter with twin girls whose father fell in battle. When asked what they remembered of their father, they broke down crying, unable even to speak. “We cried with them,” he said.
“Throughout my years as prime minister, whenever I get the news of a soldier who falls, my heart breaks with the family,” he said. Netanyahu vowed to do “everything possible” to bring home the remains of Israel’s two lost soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. The bodies of both are being held hostage by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization.Hana Levi Julian
By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Ten years after the death of her son Michael, an American-born IDF soldier who fell in battle, Harriet Levin is still learning to cope.
“Every day is different,” Levin said in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) on the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day, which begins Tuesday night. “I’ve learned to deal, but then there are really bad days – I call them my ‘Michael days.’”
First Sgt. Michael Levin died during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Serving in Battalion 890 of the Paratroopers unit, Michael was killed by anti-tank fire while clearing a building in Aita Al Shaab, a city in southern Lebanon. He was 21 years old.
Levin represents a group of soldiers known as “lone soldiers” – citizens of other countries who leave behind their families and friends and come to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Thousands of lone soldiers serve in the IDF. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, three lone soldiers, two Americans and one French, were killed in action in the Gaza Strip.
Since 2009, four lone soldier centers across Israel have been established in Michael Levin’s memory.
“Mostly I just try to focus on the good that we’re doing in his memory and that really keeps me going,” Harriet Levin said. The centers are “run by lone soldiers so they really understand their needs,” she added. “We just keep growing and getting better and better.”
Joshua Flaster, director of the Lone Soldier Center and a former lone soldier serving in an infantry unit, helped establish the center along with his comrades after completing his service.
“I came to Israel 11 years ago on my own, as a lone soldier, and sadly have lost good friends in the army,” Flaster told TPS. “Since my release from active-duty service I’ve had to say goodbye far too early to lone soldiers I’d helped advise and integrate into Israel.”
Memorial Day, known in Hebrew as Yom Hazikaron, carries special weight for soldiers, lone or otherwise.
“Yom Hazikaron is a day of sad reflection and, of course, a little scary for any soldier,” Flaster said. “Soldiers are sent to stand by the graves of members of their unit who fell before them. A country comes to a stand-still and as a nation we take on the pain, loss, and price paid to be a free people in our own land.”
Harriet attended the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin ceremony at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill on Tuesday, which featured the untold stories of fallen lone soldiers.
“It’s not only the loss of my son but the loss of all of Israel’s children, both in wars and terrorism, who have given their lives so we have a homeland,” Levin said. “He’s not the only one. He came here from the States and he really didn’t have to, but that’s what really makes Israel so fabulous.”
The differences between Memorial Day in the U.S. and Israel are “like night and day,” Levin said.
“The United States just doesn’t get what a Memorial Day is,” she said. “In the States it’s about barbecues and sales and opening your shorehouse and it has nothing to do with people who have given their lives for their country – here that’s all it’s about.”
Michael is remembered for his smile, courage, and unhalting Zionism.
“His smile would melt you and his eyes would twinkle,” Levin told TPS. “But his seriousness came through when it came to Israel. He had a passion for Israel and a love for this country. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Michael Zeff/TPS
The national Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen commenced on Tuesday at 8 p.m. with a nationwide minute of silence, as sirens throughout the country marked the solemn moment and flags were lowered to half mast.
The official memorial ceremony was held at the foot of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City and was attended by Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin and the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.
The Kadish, a Jewish mourner’s prayer, was read by Ofer Cohen, bereaved father of 19-year-old Hadar Cohen, who was killed in a stabbing attack in February.
“A great nation cries over its fallen sons and daughters,” opened Rivlin. “We hate death, but we understand the heavy price you payed to protect a nation.”
“The soldiers and the commanders of the IDF stand united to defend the country, our unity is our strength,” Eizenkot said. “But unity does not mean agreement. Our commanders need to know that the entire country stands behind them and supports them even when there’s disagreement.”.
Memorial Day, or Yom Hazikaron, has been observed annually for 68 years, since the foundation of the State of Israel, and is symbolically marked the day before Israel’s Independence Day. In recent years the commemoration has been expanded to include the civilians who died as a result of political violence and terrorist attacks.
According to the Ministry of Defense, since 1860 the total number of fallen has reached 23,447 – including soldiers, policemen, civilians, and operatives of Israel’s security and intelligence bodies. The same data reveals that today there are 16,307 bereaved families in Israel.
The count starts at 1860, since it includes not only IDF soldiers, but also fallen fighters of Jewish security and defense organizations from the beginning of the Zionist movement. Organizations such as HaShomer, active during the time of the Ottoman Empire, and the Hagana, active during the British Mandate and up to the 1948 War of Independence, when the IDF was formed.
According to data from the Israeli National Insurance institute, 2,576 civilians have been killed during Israel’s wars and in terrorist attacks since the end of the 1948 War.
According to the IDF, 68 individuals have joined the list of Israel’s fallen in the past year alone. The Magen David Adom counts over 20 civilians killed in the recent wave of terrorism, which included 106 stabbing attacks, 25 car-rammings, 22 shootings, and one bombing of a public bus.
Eizenkot made a direct reference to the recent escalation in terrorism and its effect on the Israeli homefront, saying that “terrorism has raised its head again over the past year, and today both Israel’s security agencies and its civilians are forced to stand against it.”
Rivlin mentioned several victims of terror by name, including ”Hussein Ali, who will not attend his own wedding, and Hadar, the watcher on the walls of Jerusalem who was no more then a young girl when she was killed, and more.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Michael Zeff/TPS
The late Staff Sergeant Yanai Weissman, who was killed by an Arab terrorist while on leave, will be awarded a military decoration posthumously, an IDF spokesperson announced on Tuesday. The announcement comes on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism.
Weissman was a 21-year-old IDF soldier stabbed to death in front of his wife and child in a supermarket in the Binyamin region on February 18.
Despite the fact that Weissman was murdered in a civilian facility while off duty, his death has been categorized by the Ministry of Defense as “in the line of duty.”
“Yanai chose to engage the assailants with his bear hands, fighting them until his own death. He engaged in combat with the terrorists, and the incident will therefore be classified as combat,” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said.
Every year prior to Israel’s Independence Day, the Chief of Staff announces the list of soldiers and units to be awarded military decorations on Independence Day.
“Yanai Weissman, who served as a soldier in the IDF’s Nahal Brigade will receive the commendation for his courageous actions at the fatal terror attack in the Binyamin region during his vacation,” stated the IDF spokesperson. “The late staff sergeant engaged the attackers while being unarmed thus personifying IDF values.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency