The news that one of the Israeli victims of the avalanches caused by the blizzard in Nepal a few days ago was Tamar Ariel stunned the nation. Captain Tamar Ariel z”l, who hailed from Moshav Masuot Yitzchak, was the first female Orthodox combat Pilot-Navigator to graduate in the IAF. Remarkably, she had already completed her two years of national service (Sherut Le’umi) before entering the pilot training course. During the course she was forced to eject from her plane and broke her back. After almost a year of rehabilitation, against all the odds,  she returned to the next course and graduated.

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Photo: Courtesy IAF

She was a high-profile and inspirational example of religious women in the IDF. At the graduation of Tamar, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared,

Tamar is an example of the equality between the sexes in Israel and proof that in the IDF there is place for all parts of Israeli society. It is important that more and more sectors become integrated into the IDF so that the burden may be shared more equitably and among more people.

The IDF insures that Jewish homeland has become an international beacon of light for toleration, equality and inclusion. We were moved by the example of this fine young woman who strove to go above and beyond what was required of her to serve our county and people. Tamar personified the statement by Gandhi: “We must become the change we wish to see.” In Judaism it is not important how long one lives but rather what does with ones life. Captain Tamar Ariel z’l packed more meaning into her twenty-five years than most people manage in a lifetime.

A fitting eulogy for Tamar is found in the words of the poem “High Flight” written by another Pilot, John Gillespie Magee Jr. (1922-41):

…I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never the lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God”