Our beloved mother.
You were the one who told me, at the end of the Yom Kippur War, “Eran is gone. We have no more Eran.” Two years later, you looked straight into the eyes of the paratroop commander and told him he could give me command of the commando unit. He should not worry about you. If I get killed, you and Abba will know how to deal with it. The State of Israel is more important than us.
You are the one who informed me on that Thursday night, July 1, 1976, as I returned home from army drills in the Golan Heights, “You are flying to Entebbe.”
Seven years after Eran fell, you were the one who told Modi that terrorists took over the children’s house in Misgav Am, and that he must return to his unit immediately because his team is the break-in team.
In my entire life, I never heard of a bereaved mother who sent her remaining sons off to battle without a tear in her eye, without a quiver in her voice. You knew about all of Modi’s secret missions and kept all of his medals hidden away in a secret drawer, never saying a word to anyone. It was only when we sat shiva for Abba, that I accidentally discovered your secret drawer concealing the five distinctions with their mysterious code names.
You made me feel that you were not afraid of anything. You instilled in us the courage to face any blow of fate. There is no mourning, there is no crying. We continue to move forward. Pain must translate into deeds, action and more action.
When you noticed tears in my eyes when Abba passed away, you hugged me and said, “Don’t fall apart on me here. We do not cry.”
I remember your phone call to me in Los Angeles, following the terrorist attack on the Maksim Restaurant in Haifa, just before Yom Kippur (October 3, 2003). In a soft and steady voice, you told me we have no more Zevik, Ruti, Moshik, Asaf and Tomer. That Galit, Orli, Oran and Adi were seriously wounded. Oran was blinded.
Your perceptive ears heard my sea of tears, and your voice embraced me from afar, sharing with me one small drop of the incalculable strength with which you were blessed.
When, during family gatherings, we would speak about the fragility of life, you would nonchalantly whisper to us, “In the end, we will all end up in the sea,” as if death is just a trivial episode in the path of our lives.
The only explanation I was able to offer myself to help me understand the incredible strength you displayed when everyone else was falling apart was the challenges you and Abba faced during the War of Independence, when so many people were killed every day, and you continued to bury and fight, cloaking yourselves in a heavy armor of cynicism and black humor, such as, “Rest, rest our friends and lie forever there, like you, we will sacrifice our lives for the sake of the Nation.”
After Eran was killed, you chose to chair Yad LeBanim in Rishon L’Zion for close to 40 years, in daily contact with bereavement, embracing hundreds of families who lost those dear to them, trying to offer strength and hope. Quietly, humbly. Without lofty words. You transformed Yad LeBanim into another educational institute that provides daily educational activities, learning about the people who fell on that particular date. To get up every morning and proclaim that life is stronger than all else, that falling apart is not an option, and that there is a younger generation who must reap from us courage, strength and hope. Without tears and without sighs. With deeds, action and more action.
Mom, you were the bravest, toughest and most humble woman I ever met.
Last Saturday night, when we came to visit you, as you were gushing stories and nostalgia, a few hours before the catheterization, you told us how you reprimanded the doctor who came to do a blood test. He apologized to you that he was having a hard time and that he was hurting you. “If it’s hard for you, go home and rest,” you shot back with your typical austerity.
You never complained and never played victim. Not when our brother Eran fell, not when our son Eran was diagnosed with a severe disability, not when our son died, not when our daughter Shoham passed away and not when Amit was killed, earlier this year. You never complained about any difficulty. Not when you were jailed by the British in Latrun on Black Saturday (June 29, 1946) and not when friends fell during the War of Independence or in subsequent wars.
The same brave smile graced your face as you sat on the tower at Kibbuts Negba when the Egyptians began to retreat on July 12, 1948, and the same brave smile that led us through oceans of pain remained on your face as your heart stopped beating.
I stood next to your frozen body for a few long minutes, setting free the tears that you banned during your life, and I heard you tell me once again, in your soft and steady voice, “Don’t fall apart on me here. We don’t cry.”
And a sea of my tears washed over your forehead until I was able to gather courage and step outside, holding the pile of papers written in medical terminology to describe what transpired in the hospital.
Forgive me, Mother, that I deviated somewhat from the standards you set.
Thank you for bestowing in us the courage, love and hope to continue your life’s journey, our life’s journey, as you would want it to be.
To courageously continue living a life of significance. To continue bestowing love and warmth. To continue living for the sake of the objective that you, Abba and your friends, the Generation of 1948, saw as the holiest of purposes.
The State of Israel. The miracle that is second to none. When things are difficult, to bite one’s lips and move forward. Another small step towards the exalted place of which you dreamed. To build an exemplary society here in Israel.
With deep and profound love,