It is hard to believe that a year has passed.
We came together last July – 35,000 of us – to pay our respects to Max Steinberg, a lone soldier from California, killed in Gaza.
I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to speak at Max’s funeral. I try to live my life by the message which Max inspired within me that day.
Max’s parents and siblings have been nothing short of an inspiration since Max’s passing, doing a superhuman job in keeping his flame alive. They have told Max’s story over and over, inspiring Jews around the world to Zionism and greater commitment to the Jewish people.
Together with the Families of Lone Soldiers organization, the family had a dream to have a Torah Scroll written in Max’s memory to be used in the IDF. Mission accomplished. This coming week, the scroll will be completed and dedicated at The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin in Jerusalem.
Prior to Max’s funeral, I asked some of his friends in California to share their thoughts about Max. Time did not allow me to share most of these at the funeral, so I present them now to honor Max, with the hope that all of us can take some aspect of who he was and make it a part of who we are, thereby preserving his spirit and legacy.
Nick Appel: Have you ever had that one friend who was always smiling? That one friend who would always put a smile on your face? That’s Max. Max was someone who always put a smile on my face every time we hung out. He had this happy-go-lucky personality that had an absolute positive outlook on life. Max loved music, hanging out with his friends and having a great time everywhere he went. The Rastafarian singer Bob Marley was always on Max’s playlist…I mean all the time. Since Max loved Bob so much, I thought I should end this with beautiful lyrics from Mr. Marley: “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” That’s exactly what Max did.
Kyle: Max was undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind soul. He knew how to live in the moment, and unselfishly remain positive towards everyone around him even when he himself was going through trouble. He was always there when I needed someone to lean on, a pillar of comfort. He was not just a friend, but a brother who I will always hold at the highest part of my heart. Max made an impact on everyone’s life, he just knew how to enjoy life to the Max, and never seemed to settle for anything less. To the Bravest person I have ever known, I love you and your family so much Max, I can’t wait to make you proud.
Emily Taylor Lowdermilk: I could talk about Max for hours. He was one of my best friends. Maxxy had a heart so big I can’t even begin to describe it. He was supportive, and kind. When I was down he would give me hugs that made my problems melt away. He was always down for a crazy spontaneous adventure. He loved with every cell in his body, and always had a way of making me feel special and wonderful. Max was resilient, he never gave up, even when life through him curve balls. He kept fighting and pushed hard to overcome obstacles, and he helped me do the same in my own life. That is why when he told me he wanted to move to Israel and join the IDF, I was so happy. It was like he found his purpose, something to really fight for.
Hayley: When I think of max, I think of his goofy dance moves, his silly smile, and how loving and protective he always was. Max and I met in middle school, and although we were young, he was the first boy to take a big part of my heart. He always made sure to make every moment count. He knew exactly what to say at any moment, and made sure to finish it off with a typical Max remark that always lead to a good laugh from everyone. Max was… Max. You didn’t need to be close to him to know he was something special. He is my, and everyone else’s, hero and guardian angel. I hope everyone understands how truly and deeply Maxxy is loved. I’ll miss you always. Rest in peace, handsome.
Annie: I’ve known Max since I was about 4, and I considered him my ‘other brother’. He had a heart of gold and was always so much fun to be around. His smile lit up a room, and that memory will always be engrained in my heart. He was so supportive and truly one of a kind. You will always be with me, and I feel so blessed to have known you. May you find your peace beyond this world, dearest Max.
Ben Young: Max was my closest friend since I was 7 years old, our mothers were best friends while we were growing up. We grew up playing sports and video games together, going to concerts and just enjoying life in general; we were inseparable. He was the older brother I always wanted, always looking out for me and protecting me whenever needed. He had the biggest heart of any person I ever met, and I am lucky to say he was my best friend; he died a hero defending his family and friends. I will love you forever Max, and will always look over my shoulder for you.
Michelle Young: What do I think of when I think of Max? Max had a wonderful, independent spirit. Once his mind was set, there was no changing it – which could also be quite maddening and exasperating at times! Max had a compassionate and caring heart, a good heart. He was loving and loyal to his friends, and was always willing to help anyone out. Max gave 150% to everything he did, no half measures, eventually leading him not only to join the IDF but to insist on becoming a Golani soldier. He believed in what he was doing, his purpose. It did amuse me to read, though, that the Golani Brigade has been known for its ‘insubordination’ – sounds about right for Max, I thought. Max definitely had a mind of his own!! Max – you have touched so many lives. Although you were with us far too briefly, you will never be forgotten. You will always be with us in our hearts. Miss you and love you always, Michele.
From a fellow lone soldier: Max was a joker always laughing smiling whatever the situation he gave me strength and hope in everything we did together I will always remember his cheeky smile and getting in trouble in basic training we went through I’m so honored and proud to have known such a brave hero his memory will be remembered forever max I love you so much my heart bleeds but I know your looking down on me along with all your brothers in arms.
May the memory of Max Steinberg be a source of blessing and inspiration for us all.