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Jerry Klinger
Shaping the Future by Remembering the Past

Honoring the Women of the IDF (?)

 

The Tatzpaniot (the Watchers) stared at their monitor screens. That was their job, staring at screens every day, 24/7, that relayed activity along the Gaza border.  Boring, mind-numbing work. The young IDF women stared, getting to know the patterns, the faces of the Gazans who came near the security fence. For weeks they saw something was different along the Gaza border. The patterns were different. Something was being planned. They reported it up the chain of command.

Nothing happened. No response to the warnings. Their eyes were discounted, their reports were arrogantly disparaged by the higher-ups.

The Women Soldiers who watched were not even allowed to carry weapons. They were that far down on the totem pole.

On October 7, the Gazan monsters burst through the fence with blood and lust on their minds. The few women who could carry weapons at Tatzpaniot bases, and or women everywhere along the Gaza border, fought ferociously.

Many died. Many Tatzpaniot died.

Tanks, manned by female crews, fought heroically and successfully.

Leora Eren Fruct wrote succinctly about Women that day in Hadassah Magazine, 12/20/23.

“Most of the women who answered the call of duty that dark day will never be known. And even those who are—a soldier from Modi’in, a medic from Ramat Beit Shemesh, a midwife from Alumim, to name just a few—will not get a medal or a mural for their courage. But many in Israel owe them their lives.”

Nor were they, or are they, looking for medals.

Israel has never honored, with any permanent dignity, the contributions of Women who have defended the State.

From the earliest struggles to live on the land, women have defended Israel.

The Lion of Tel-Hai, for Joseph Trumpeldor and the fighters who died alongside him, is a shrine to the Jewish defender’s memory. How many know or remember Devorah Drechler, a member of the “Female Guardians of the Galilee”? She died fighting next to Trumpeldor.

How many know or remember Miriam Shachor, an elite soldier in the Palmach, who died fighting terrorists in 1947? Her sacrifice enabled other Palmachniks to escape to fight another day.

Recently, President Rivlin wrote a poignant remembrance of Women who fought in the War of Independence.

Women have fought, actively or in support capacities, in every single war or security or needs situation Israel has faced, the years before its birth and to today.

Where is the Tribute Memorial to the Women, to the Women of the IDF…

Israel had made lots of noise lately about how women responded and fought when called upon to.

A lot of noise is just noise fading in the wind.

Two months ago, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation asked where the Tribute Memorial to the Women of the IDF was located. The chagrined response…you are right. There should be one. There is none.

JASHP contacted noted Jerusalem artist and sculptor Sam Philipe to develop a concept design for a sculpture honoring the Women of the IDF. JASHP asked for a realistic visual, not an abstract interpretation that requires a docent to tell the less artistically erudite what they are looking at.

The message must be direct. The message must be clear.

Sam came up with a concept, two Women soldiers, one from 1948 and one from 2024, standing tall, shoulder to shoulder, facing the world.

JASHP secured funding to fabricate the proposed 9-foot sculpture, which would be publicly placed with honor, dignity, and accessibility.

Everyone says it is the right thing to do.

JASHP reached out to multiple cities, women’s groups, governmental agencies, and even President Rivlin with the proposal to do what should have been done many years ago. JASHP is very familiar with this process, having completed over 25 projects in and for Israel.

Incredulously, no one responded…

Our search continues. Doing the right thing means not letting the right thing wither away with vacuous words from the establishment.

Surely, somewhere in Israel, somebody wants to do the right thing.

One tiny opportunity for memory for the Tatzpaniot was presented to us. Even after their terrible sacrifices have been made public, the women still live in tiny, allocated spaces, poorly equipped for personal living, some lacking even a TV to distract them.

JASHP has funded and arranged for televisions and other items to be delivered to five front-line Tatzpaniot bases. A tiny stone plaque will be affixed to their living quarters.

They will know they are respected, remembered, and honored for their courage.

About the Author
Jerry is the president and founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, www.JASHP.org. He is the son of Survivors of Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen. He is a former Yeshivah student and served with the IDF in the Sinai. He is the author of hundreds of articles in publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post to the Prairie Connection to the San Diego Jewish World. Jerry is frequently interviewed on T.V. and Radio about the American Jewish experience. The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has completed projects in 43 US. States and in 8 countries. Over 7,000,000 people annually benefit from one of JASHP's efforts. JASHP has completed over 25 projects in and for Israel ranging from the restoration and preservation of the disgracefully deteriorated grave site of Shlomo Cohen, the composer of the Hativah, to the S.S. Exodus and more. November 29, 2022, Netanya: JASHP completed the first-ever historical memorial to the central birthing event of the modern state of Israel - the U.N. Partition Resolution. JASHP is presently working towards another first for Israel, a tribute sculpture honoring the Women of the IDF.
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