Sunday, May 8, 2016

Today, He Would Have Been 30...

Today is Michael Levin's birthday - he would have been 30 years old. Instead, he will always remain the young, beautiful young man who chose Israel...twice.

Once, he came to serve in our army, defend our land. He joined the Paratroopers and excelled. Like most lone soldiers, Michael was given a chance to go visit his family for an extended visit during his service. While there, war broke out with Lebanon, after Hizbollah attacked and kidnapped two of our soldiers. The north was being bombarded with dozens of rockets daily. Michael told his family he had to come back - he chose to fight in a war, chose to join his unit in Lebanon.

He fell in battle in 2006. He was 20 years, he would have been 30. My oldest child is 30. She is married with two precious-beyond-words sons. She has a husband that we adore. She has made a home here in this land. Michael never had that chance.

My oldest "adopted" son is Yakov. He chose to come to this land and serve in the army; now he lives here with his beautiful wife and three amazing-beyond-words daughters. They have built a home here in this land. Michael never had the chance to take a wife, bring children into this world.

In his memory, a whole organization was created to help similar young men who come to this land to join in the dream of Israel.

This week, we will mourn for the loss of over 24,000 people who died in the battle for this land. It has never been easy; it has always been right.

For most of the year, we never question that sacrifice; we don't really question it this week either. But on Tuesday night, a siren will sound and all over Israel, people will cry - for ones who were lost, for the ones who serve now. On Wednesday morning, the siren will sound again and for two minutes, people still stand at attention, having stopped in mid-step, wherever they are.

In all the military cemetaries, tens of thousands will come...and next to each grave, there will be a soldier. He will stand there, alive and proud, and the families come to visit their sons and daughters. I thought once that this was cruel, even it was meant as a tribute. But in reality, it is an act of kindness. In their grief, they are reminded that there is life. They often offer the soldier a bottle of water, some sweets, if nothing else, they offer their gratitude. This year, David will stand next to a grave. For one mother, it will be a reminder that her son was not forgotten.

On Wednesday, all of Israel will remember Michael Levin. Today, on what would have been his birthday, I'm sure his family is thinking of him. I hope they know that we are too.

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