MEMORIAL DAY 2015 PART III, AVINOAM MORDISH ז”ל 

There was an anniversary and the committee that organized the anniversary decided to post photos of the founders of the kibbutz, pulling many of the photos from the archives.  It was really interesting to see the founding members when they were much younger.  They had come to build and to be built, by the work, by the land, by their struggles, and by their joys and their sorrows.

One photo in particular remained etched forever in my memory.  There was a photo of Avinoam’s father, working in the old canning factory of the kibbutz.  The factory no longer existed, dismantled decades prior.  Avraham, Avinoam’s father, had huge arms, powerful muscular arms, made strong by the immensely demanding physical labor.  I could not believe that the Avraham I knew was the same person.  Yes, he was older, but so thin, so frail, so fragile.

You see, like many families of the kibbutz, Avraham and his wife had four children.  Four sons.  And Avinoam and Ya’akov, the youngest, were twin brothers.  Avinoam and many of the young women and men of his peer group used to gather in the dining room, after the communal dinner had been cleared and the tables moved aside, to dance.  Someone hooked up a sound system, and there, in their jeans and in their kibbutz slippers, they would do these line dances.  I was amazed, awed.  Me, with my two left feet, admired these dancers, and I especially admired Avinoam who seemed to come alive when he danced.

He was just 21 years old when he was killed, on October 20th, 1973, near the Suez Canal, fighting the Egyptians.

And, that is when his father, Avraham, stoic that he was, slowly, gradually, but surely, became the frail man I knew, grieving for his fallen son.

MEMORIAL DAY PART IV, DANIEL BIRNBAUM  ז”ל

Daniel came from Argentina as a high school student.  He was part of a core group of students who formed a   גרעין, a class that would study together, and be drafted into military service together.  Barely 19 years old, and on the very last days of the Yom Kippur War, Daniel was killed in action October 29th, 1973, near the town of Suez.

MEMORIAL DAY PART V, MORDECHAI “DUDU” GAON ז”ל

I really didn’t know Dudu that well.  He was married and had two children, a son and a daughter.  He worked outside of the confines of the kibbutz, coming home for the weekend, or to serve his turn managing the dishwashing conveyor, clearing tables in the dining room.

Some of the younger members of the kibbutz had turned one of the bomb shelters into a small club.  There would be light refreshments, and there would be music.  Dudu loved to dance.  He didn’t really care who he danced with, as long as he was up and dancing.

When the call came for reservists to report to their units on October 6th 1973, Dudu, like thousands of others, answered the call, leaving behind his wife and two children.  His unit fought the Syrians in the Golan.  Dudu was killed there, on October 22nd, 1973.  He was only 32 years old.

MEMORIAL DAY PART VI, NACHSHON YANAI ז”ל

Nachshon and I went through all of the Golani Brigade’s basic training courses together.  Our base was near Nahariya, and Nachshon’s kibbutz, Gaaton, was just due east of that base.  We used to rib Nachshon about serving “close to home”.  While most of us came from places much farther away, and while it would take us most of our 48 hour passes to get home and to come back, Nachshon would be home in a matter of minutes.

Basic training was, to say the least, demanding.  There was much to learn and we took it all very seriously.  An accident could mean death.  We sat and we learned, and we repeated what we had learned, and we drilled and then we drilled some more.

During one of the learning sessions the instructor showed us how to use a box filled with matches to hold razor blades that could be used to expose the wires used as fuses for exploding ordinance.  Extra boot laces would be wrapped tightly around the matchboxes, so as to silence any rattling of matches when moving silently was necessary.  So, there we were, inserting razor blades into matchboxes, wrapping laces, when the instructor asked the group, “What could the razor blades possibly be used for?”  Nachshon, without skipping a beat, and deadpan, answered, “Sir, in the unlikely event that we fall into enemy hands, sir, we will use the razor blades to slit our wrists, and prevent the enemy from gaining any secret information, sir!”

It took us a split second longer to lose our composure, as we laughed so hard, tears coming from our eyes and our sides aching.

Nachshon was only 19 when he was killed fighting the Syrians in the Golan.  He died October 22nd, 1973.

They live with me, these young men.  They live, forever young, in my memories of them.  And, they gave me a task, to tell their stories, and to keep their memories alive, for as long as I can, for as long as I draw breath.        זכרונם לברכה .  May their memory be blessed.