There are those who gain their Olam Habah in one hour in this world. And there are those who spend every hour in this world infusing it with Olam Habah. Such a man was Uri Shlomai whose sojourn in this world was brief but who filled every waking moment with working for the klal.
Uri Shlomai left this world a few days shy of his 49th birthday after a 9-month battle with cancer. He left a grieving father, a heartbroken wife, a devastated son and three daughters and two distraught sisters. But more than that, he left a legacy of a life devoted to the nation and country of Israel.
Born to two Hebrew teachers who spent many years of shlichut in Canada, Uri served as a lone soldier while his family was in Montreal. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in Intelligence and had a long and distinguished army career.
After the army, in keeping with the practice of stationing an honor guard near the flag for Yom HaZikaron, he instituted a rotation of at least two people learning mishnayot every half hour near the flag on the main street of the Petach Tikvah neighborhood where he lived.
Uri volunteered for Magen David Adom and was part of an army contingent that was sent on a rescue mission to Nepal by Israel after an earthquake there in 2015.
With his high energy and commitment to contributing to the klal, Uri looked for gaps to fill. Even while in the throes of his illness he launched a Parshat Hashavua initiative.
Uri personified the ideal of the Mizrachi philosophy which has given Israel the cream of its society: people with dedication to hearth, home and community, an impeccable army service record and Torah learning.
After the army, Uri, who had a Master’s Degree in organizational consulting and strategic development as well as being a licensed life coach, sought to teach mastery of life both to individuals and companies. He not only believed in giving everyone the opportunity to live up to his or her potential, he insisted on it, but without being pushy or intrusive.
He was a devoted and loving and father to his four children and a wonderful husband to his wife Rinatya who also serves the klal in her job as an occupational therapist and matchmaker.
Despite the late hour, the heat and the humidity of August, and the short notice, hundreds of people came to say goodbye to this young man who had accomplished so much and died so young. It was a very long and difficult goodbye as he was eulogized by rabbis, his father and his children.
A few days before he died, Uri’s 11-year-old daughter Tamar, somehow instinctively knowing that to wait till his birthday would be too late, gave him a small painting she made for him depicting all the things he was best at. She called it “To the Best Father in the World.” It showed him giving her a big hug, his service to the country as a soldier, his volunteer work in MADA, and his hobbies, windsurfing and cooking. It was like she had prepared the canvas of his life to present in Beit Din shel Maalah. But she needn’t have worried. They have a record of his deeds there – an impeccable record for a soldier in Hashem’s army, one who received an early discharge with distinction.
Lillui nishmat Uri ben Asher Anschel, z”l.