by Avi Weschler (’14)

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This past Monday, the entire student body gathered in the Beis Medrash to commemorate Yom HaZikaron. The program began with a short introduction by Hatzioni faculty advisor Rabbi Eli Cohn, and was followed by a short video about an Israeli soldier named Uriel Liewerant; the rebbeim had discussed Uriel briefly earlier in the day in their individual shiurim. Uriel was tragically killed when his tank flipped over during a tank maneuver exercise.

¬†Following the video, Lavi Bigman, a close friend of Uriel, got up to commemorate Uriel by giving us a glimpse of who Uriel was. He began by describing how his own family made Aliyah many years ago in an attempt to make their own kibbutz. However after realizing that the kibbutz life wasn’t for them, Lavi’s parents moved to a more urban part of Israel, Haifa. Never truly fitting in at school, Lavi finally found comfort at a high school in Efrat. This is where he met Uriel. Immediately, a friendship was formed when Uriel welcomed him with open arms and his brilliant smile.

Lavi related several stories which depicted Uriel’s exceptional character, be it how quick he was to make friends or how he lived as a Torah Jew. For example, every day Uriel would learn Daf Yomi before his training exercises, and give sweets to all his tan-mates. This exceptional young man was taken from this world when his tank fell off a special bridge designed to help tanks across deep ditches. It had been early in the morning and still dark outside when Uriel realized something was amiss. As he felt the tank tipping he called out his final words, “roll over drill,” alerting his fellow soldiers in the tank, thus allowing them to brace themselves for the impact. In his final act he was able to save every one of his charges in the tank. Perhaps the most striking part of Uriel’s story was how selfless he was; he took the position of tank commander even though he really wanted to return home and continue learning because he felt that if the State of Israel would benefit from his leadership, he could not turn down the opportunity. He was a true Israeli hero who put his fellow man before himself with love and companionship. May we all learn from Uriel and remember the many others who lost their lives in our service so that we can lead such blessed lives.

The program concluded with a moving slideshow featuring the traditional rendition of Kel Molei Rachamim and remarks from Rabbi Taubes.

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