From Daniel Gordis’s dispatch today from
It’s been the week of kids, an unbearably long week since Sunday. . . . Mid-day, I began to notice a number of people listening attentively to their cell phones, and others trying to get the news on the little screens. . . . Two Israeli soldiers had been killed . . . Another wounded. And worse, one had been kidnapped.
We’re a society that is tragically used to burying our kids in uniform. But we’re not used to their being held captive. The thought of our kids -- for that’s what they are -- in the hands of “people” like that is simply unbearable. And later that day, when the news released the now ubiquitous photograph of Gilad Shalit . . . his thick black glasses making him look younger than his nineteen years, Israelis found themselves despondent. The baby face. In the hands of who knew whom. We imagined his parents and the unbearable uncertainty. And Gilad. Where he might be. How indescribably terrified and alone he must feel.
Did he know we’d come to get him, I wondered? Because it was clear we would. You don’t take care of kids in the parks to let them grow up and be stolen out of sovereign Israeli territory. You just don’t.
* * *
The newscaster . . . announced that Gilad’s parents had written him a letter and had made it public. He then read the text . . .
“To our dear, sweet Gilad,
Mommy and Daddy, Yoel and Hadas, are terribly worried about you, want to hear you, and hope that you are healthy and that you feel OK, as well as you can in your circumstances. We hope that you will be able to read these words, and we want you to know that all possible steps are being taken so that you can return home to Hila and the Galilee, as quickly as possible, to your family, and to your room that is waiting for you….
Know that we are thinking of you at every moment, [hoping] that you are somehow managing, and that you will make it through these difficult moments. We know and believe that the people holding you also have families, and will know what it is that we are enduring, and will know how to take care of you and [safeguard] your health.
We love you and send you strength.
Mommy and Daddy”
As the newscaster finished reading the letter, I happened to glance out the windows of my car. Both drivers to my side, one a man in his fifties and one a woman in her late twenties, were wiping tears from their eyes. The windows didn’t need to be open to know what they’d been hearing.
And then, what had been rumors of a second kidnapping proved true. On the
West Bank, the PRC claimed to be holding Eliyahu Asheri. An eighteen year old kid, now in the hands of animals, for the crime of hitchhiking. . . . Another big child. Wearing a t-shirt, sitting under a tree. With a wide smile. And a numb country didn’t know what to do. . . .
[T]hey can’t steal our kids and think that we’re simply going to let it go on. . . . The rest of the world thinks we’re looking for a kidnapped soldier, so they don’t really get this massive reaction. The EU’s beginning to express concern. Bombing bridges was OK, but arresting the members of Hamas’ parliament, they think, is a bit over the top. Buzzing Assad’s palace, we’re told, was provocative. Maybe.
The reason they don’t get it is that they think we’re looking for a soldier. But we’re not. We’re looking for Gilad.
Thousands of people attended the funeral of 18-year old Eliyahu Asheri in
Eliyahu's mother, Miriam, eulogized: "Eliyahu, our darling, you went up in a storm of the night like Elijah the prophet," she continued.
Miriam fondly recounted how the family would sit around the Shabbat table and how Eliyahu taught them, time and time again, not to judge people, "not by outward appearances nor by stigmas."
"I have one big request for you Eliyahu," Miriam said, "when you stand before God, please defend the people of
in all its actions." . . . . Israel
According to Miriam, "What strengthens you is, first of all, knowing that everything is from God, knowing that to die sanctifying God's name, as he did -- that God chose him to sanctify the name of heaven in public. This is the thing that comforts us. Any other comfort is trivial in my estimation, it doesn't let my spirit rest."
Yitro Asheri said his son was always a peacemaker. "The last day I saw you, you were in our house in Itamar, and you made peace between your siblings," he said. . . .
At Asheri's funeral, Druckman eulogized his 18-year-old grandson. "We know the sun sets in the evening, but if it suddenly sets in the middle of the day . . . Eliahu, you were as bright as the sun," he said, in between sobs.
Soldiers attend the funeral of Stff-Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, 20, who was killed in the infiltration from
on Sunday, at Dimona’s military cemetery. He was the driver of the tank attacked by the terrorists and was killed along with Lt. Hanan Barak. Pavel immigrated to Gaza with his family in 1991. He was an outstanding student, excelling particularly in mathematics and English, who planned to study medicine, for which he had been awarded a full scholarship from Israel . He is survived by his parents and his older brother, Victor. Bar Ilan University
Kol Hakavod to Lynn-B and John Hinderaker for their euologies. Shlomo Wollins has 50 pictues and audio of the Asheri funeral. They are heart-breaking. Perhaps we should care more.
Lt. Hanan Barak graduated from
ORT High Schoolin . . . . . At the gravesite, speaking to Barak, as if he were still with her, [his girlfriend Orit Gino] recalled a conversation between them during a vacation to Eilat, in which he told her, "We are soulmates and soulmates never part. We are like one person." She told him that even though she had a hard time with the army, she would support his decision to stay on to be an officer after his three years of service ended. Arad
Hanan's father David related: "In school, he was a regular student, nothing special. But he came into his own in the army, where he excelled and emerged as a leader." In addition to his success as a soldier, Hanan was an artist who drew pictures, particularly portraits, said his brother Yishai. . . . Among the many memories that flooded his mind after hearing of his brother's death was the way his brother had bonded with him, supporting him through a serious illness six years ago, when his brother was only 15. "I knew my hair was going to fall out, so I decided to shave it off. In solidarity with me, Hanan shaved his off as well," recalled Yishai.
Lt. Hanan Barak was buried in
. He is survived by his parents, David and Nela, his brother Yishai, and older sister. Arad