Last Shabbat (January 27, 2024) we marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day which this year powerfully served to underscore how undeniably precious are those who now heroically defend our state, our people and our faith.
A few weeks ago, I encountered a group of Golani soldiers who had just exited Gaza and who were due to be redeployed after a few days rest. Previously they had also fought off the marauding barbarians of October 7. I met these brave soldiers while providing my minimal harvest assistance on a farm in the ‘Gaza envelope.’
Having lost the bulk of the Thai labor force and all the Palestinian workers the farmer was so appreciative of all the volunteer support he was receiving from all around the globe.
What he could not have anticipated and nor could I was that these exhausted battle hardened warriors would leave their adjacent temporary staging area and join forces with us to help this desperate farmer get his crops to the domestic market (facing deficit) rather than letting the produce rot on the vine.
I felt that I was witnessing an extraordinary display of dedication to a land and a people that these lions of Judah sacrifice so much for already. They exemplified to me what a resolute Jew really means.
I felt honored for a few precious moments of my life to be part of your team. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I felt an enormous pride not only in your uniform but also in the fact that you would sacrifice a few precious moments of your well-earned down time to come once again to the rescue of a fellow Jew in need. You are the very personification of “Am Yisrael Chai.”
A mere ‘thank you’ is insufficient but your indomitable and inspiring spirit leaves one reaching in vain for vocabulary that cannot possibly encapsulate all that you stand for today. Our forebears were not fortunate enough to have you to prevent the indiscriminate persecution and slaughter of our people. You are the generational difference that they would have hoped for and prayed for and that we are so grateful for. The world may find it uncomfortable and inconvenient when Jews fight back against the baseless hatred that has pursued us through the centuries but every Jew in the world knows and appreciates that you are protecting us all. You displayed that day and indeed you show every day that never again is now!
May G-d bless you and keep you safe and return you all in good health to your families in the very near future.