Photo Credit: Arie Leib Abrams / Flash 90
Family and friends of Sgt. Major (res.) Ben Zussman, z"l, 22, mourn at his funeral at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on December 4, 2023. Ben, a resident of Jerusalem, was killed during a ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

Before an IDF soldier goes into combat, he writes a letter to be given to his family in case he is killed in action. The following missive was written by 22-year-old Sgt. Major (res) Ben Zussman, z”l of Jerusalem who fell in battle last week in Gaza. The letter was published Monday by Israel’s KAN News public broadcaster.

“I am writing this message to you on my way to the base. If you are reading this, something has probably happened to me. As you know me, there’s probably no one happier than me right now. I was just about to fulfill my dream soon. I am grateful for the privilege to defend our beautiful land and the people of Israel.


Even if something happens to me, I don’t allow you to sink into sadness. I had the privilege to fulfill my dream and my destiny, and you can be sure that I am looking down on you with a big smile. Perhaps I’ll sit next to Grandfather and bridge some gaps. Each one will share their experiences and what has changed between wars, and we’ll talk a bit about politics, and I’ll ask him for his opinion.

If, God forbid, you are sitting shiva (in mourning), turn it into a week of friends, family, and joy. Have food, definitely meat, beer, sweet drinks, seeds, tea, and of course, Mom’s cookies. Laugh, listen to stories, meet all my friends you haven’t seen yet. Seriously, I envy you. I would like to be there to see everyone.

Another very, very important point. If, God forbid, I fall captive, alive or dead, I am not willing for a soldier or civilian to be harmed because of any deal for my release. I do not allow you not to conduct a campaign or protest or anything like that. I am not willing for terrorists to be released in exchange for me. In no way, shape, or form. Please do not twist my words.

I’ll say it again; I left home without even being called up to reserve duty. I am filled with pride and a sense of duty, and I always said that if I have to die, I hope it will be in defense of others and the country. (From the song Guards of the Walls) ‘Jerusalem, I have placed the guards’ (Yishayahu 62:6), that the day will come when I will be one of them.”

May his memory be a blessing and may his blood be avenged.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.