by Moshe Hecht (’16)

This past Tuesday evening, students who were engaged in this year’s Lev Echad Memorial Progarm participated in a special Yom HaZikaron conference call. The Lev Echad Memorial Program is a program inaugurated this year where students took upon themselves to read daily biographies of the 60 fallen Israeli soldiers who perished this past summer in Operation Protective Edge.

The participants in the program had the privilege of having a a few soldiers – Naftali Gross, Rafi Wein, and Amazia Fensterheim – speak to them during the call about their personal experiences in Operation Protective Edge. The students were also able to ask questions about specific ways to help Israel and its soldiers. There was then a short siren for the remembrance of the 23,320 Israelis who lost their lives protecting Israel over the decades.

The soldiers had inspiring stories that showed the achdut within the state of Israel. One of the soldiers told the students about a day this past summer when he was detained in a hospital during the war; while there, he found out about thedeat of one of his friends. A five year old girl saw him crying and handed him a lollipop. The soldier felt that that specific experience helped him get through the aftermath of the war.

Another soldier, a tour guide before the war, was hiking in the Galilee and found out that his brother was called up to fight. Everyone tried to comfort him -religious and secular Jews alike. This event really inspired him and showed the unity of the different sects of jews in the country. This conference call event showed the various high school students real life experiences that occurred in Operation Protective Edge.

As we have concluded reading the daily biographies of all the soldiers who died this past summer, we will never forget that without them, we would not be where we are now. As this unique Lev Echad Memorial Program concludes, which united 5,000 students from Yeshiva High Schools across America in one cause, we will always remember that our people are strongest when unified.


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