My home town was under constant threat when I was a kid and my parents used to host soldiers for Shabbat dinner every Friday. I got used to seeing those green uniforms every week and listening to their stories. There was a time I was sure I had big brothers, many big brothers. Some of the hundreds of soldiers my parents hosted over the years were lone soldiers. Lone soldiers are young people who choose to make aliyah at age 18 alone and to serve three years or more in the Israel Defense Forces, usually as combat soldiers or officers.
During Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to defend our people and border, 64 soldiers have been killed, three of them lone soldiers. Sean Carmeli from Texas was one of the three. Sean was a fan of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team, and someone in the Maccabi Haifa organization was afraid that Sean, who was killed defending the country and people he loved so much, would be buried alone, so he posted on Facebook and invited Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) to come and walk Sean on his last way. More than 20,000 people came. The vast majority didn’t know him at all, but they cherished his life and honored his death; they wanted to say thank you, Sean. Ariel Horowitz, the son of the “first lady of Israeli song” Naomi Shemer, wrote a song for him, saying: “20,000 people and you were the first, 20,000 people … two sisters, 20,000 brothers.”
Thank you to all Jews around the world who educate their kids to love Israel that much.
This was, for sure, one of the moments I felt so proud to be both Jewish and Israeli, to see the unity among us, unity that was so missing just before the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens and Operation Protective Edge.
There is nothing good in war, I am sure you all agree, but we gained precious unity that was so missing in our land, our people, to see a Chabad truck next to the border with Gaza cheering up our soldiers, to see packages for soldiers with letters from kids sent from all over the world. The pictures, videos, letters and rallies supporting Israel warmed my heart, our hearts.
As one who lost my beloved father to terror and blind hatred — my father who raised me more than anything to love people, just to love and care, “What does it cost you?” he used to say with a smile — I know how it feels to pay the price that so many people are paying in Israel right now, the painful price that the state of Israel determined, to do anything so no more kids will lose their fathers, no more parents will bury their kids.
The expression “six after the war” originally appeared in “The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War.” Two friends set a date to meet at the pub at 6 p.m. after the war. The phrase is used to describe what will be after the war.
Here’s one part of a lovely and moving short story by Uri Ophir, a young Israeli musician, poet and short story writer. This piece was written 10 years ago and is still so relevant.
Six After the War — Uri Ophir
“… The future opened up to us two years ago, when those important agreements long talked about for years finally were signed. Those agreements that would change the course of the lives of all who live in this country, for all its borders. It would be so nice to walk around cities such as Jenin, Rafah, Jerusalem without feeling any fear.
How nice it would be if we could continue to do this for years … but fate and politics have destroyed everything and we found ourselves declared enemies again, only this time by the very state we helped to build with our own hands. Me and Saul, the two of us were hoping to help, and in fact, Saul and I started a restoration company. We received funding from all over the world. People realized it was probably a happy ending to the conflict that had continued for years. For a year and a half we created, with work on both sides, the world’s largest restoration company. We re-established schools, mosques, public buildings, helping to reverse the destruction that resulted from the long period of conflict.
Slowly, it seemed that here comes true peace….”
Israeli culture in Tucson
The Weintraub Israel Center is cosponsoring a concert by Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza at The Fox Tucson Theatre on Oct. 30 with special guest Alberto Rios, poet laureate of Arizona. Broza set one of Rios’s poems, “Chileno Boys,” to music.
Says Broza, “Occasionally, I would find a great poem that I wanted to set to music. So I would set it aside, and I would work on it. When it was ready, I tried to find the poet [if still alive] to see if he was interested in making a personal connection … I would have the poem in front of me, and look for the music that this lyric would want.”