Remembering David Menachem Gordon (1993 -2014)

Yesterday, amidst the quite grassy solitude of Israel’s national Military cemetery on Mt. Herzl, I attended the first “Yahrzeit” (memorial) service of David Menachem Gordon who entered eternity last August. David was a “Chayal Boded” (lone Soldier) in the elite Givati unit who served with distinction in Operation Protective Edge and was an exemplary soldier. He was an upbeat, highly intelligent, ideologically motivated young man who chose to serve in the IDF, despite having no family here, because he felt it was the correct form of action for him as a Jew and a Zionist.

The memorial service was awash with a sea of purple berets of his brothers-in-arms, friends, family, representatives of the Lone Soldier Center in the name of Michael Levin and people from all walks of society in Israel who came to pay their respects to this young man whose life came to so sudden and tragic an end.

givati har herzl
Memorial Service for David Gordon Z’l on Mt Herzl. (T.Book, 2015)

There are so many stresses, physiological, physical and emotional that serving in a high-tension unit so far away from family and friends can cause. The fact that David managed to always stay focused and was eternally optimistic is a sign of the remarkably upbeat, resilient and special person he was.

Through his articulate, insightful, deeply personal writings, David relayed experiences of being in the army, making a difference and of painful memories that, for a large part of his life, had haunted him and been kept secret. Those painful memories, which occurred in his childhood, were alleged sexual abuse by Jewish authority figures in his school and, according to an emotional blog by David in The Huffington Post, took place over the span of years.

His cousin wrote: “The IDF seemed to offer a panacea of sorts for him, a place where he could channel his kinetic energy, zest for life and infinite curiosity.” David learnt many life lessons about serving in the army. Among them, he wrote,

If the military has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the small things as well as things I had previously taken for granted. With all luxuries limited as of late, I have a new appreciation for everyday gifts like hot showers, tasty food, human connection, entertainment and even freedom. Surprisingly, the army’s limitation of all these things has transformed me not only into a reflexive warrior but, in many ways, a happier person. When I have that free time I’m more conscious of it. Every tune is magic. Every kind pair of eyes is adored. Every uninterrupted night’s sleep with my boots off is a miracle and, of course, time in general is better utilized.”

Ultimately, despite his best attempts to move on, David’s past demons caught up with him. Let us hope that he is a better place and has found the peace he so desperately sought.

gordon
David Gordon z”l 1993-2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He is the author (and illustrator) of the internationally acclaimed Zionism curriculum; “For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Education” (fifth edition, 2017, Koren) and is at present working on his next book, a history of the Jewish people. Tuvia has a doctorate in Israel education. His dissertation title is: “Through the Soldiers’ Eyes: Exploring the Influence of a Birthright Mifgash on the Israeli Soldier Participants.”
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