Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reflections on the funeral of a soldier

Dor Dery

Barkai Yishai Shor   
Moshe Davino

The graves lie side by side on Mt. Herzl and I am devastated.  I just returned from the funeral of Barkai Yishai Shor, one of the soldiers who was killed in Operation Protective Edge. There were 3 funerals at Mt. Herzl this afternoon and 3 others before it. One after the other, funerals for boys who died protecting our nation, who gave everything...for us.

My intention was to attend the funeral of Moshe Davino, whose father is an acquaintance, but due to a mix up in times, I missed his and ended up at Barkai Shor's. In between Moshe's and Barkai's funeral was Dor Dery's, who, it turned out, was the nephew of other acquaintances, through a friend. That's the way it is in Israel. We so often have some connection to every soldier's death, somehow we knew the family, or their best friend, or some other connection.

In Israel, the grief is completely personal as well as national, as if the child were our own...because really, he or she is. These boys and girls are our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers. There is no army like the IDF. All of Israel mourns them as family. I didn't know Barkai before the funeral but I knew him afterwards.

This was the first military funeral i have been to here. The tears began, when suddenly, in the stillness of the total silence of thousands of people who came to show their respect and bid farewell, there was ever so soft a cadence of the soldiers bringing in Barkai's body, punctuated by the grieving sobs of his mother, and now the sobs of the rest of us.

With the cadence of the soldiers began my tears, and they haven't ended til now. Tears mingled with thoughts of my own children, intertwined with the timelessness and comfort of the kaddish. I felt like I was listening to the kaddish said over every Jew who had ever died.  It was then i realised the eternal nature of Am Yisrael and how truly this boy Barkai was also my own child, as was Moshe, Dor and the rest.

One by one family members and friends spoke of the fineness, the generous spirit, the love this boy Barkai had for others, for helping others.  Broken hearts were not afraid to weep publicly...soldiers sobbing next to me, comforting one another as their achi was eulogised and laid to rest.

Perhaps some of the tears were the release of all the emotions held in check until now. I now understand the importance of joining the public mourning for our fallen. We are all together.

In spite of the sadness I felt much peace in our unity. At the same time, I began to think about the funerals of the terrorists... men and women filled with rage and hatred, glorifying in death, violent, teaching their children that murder and death are the wondrous goals of Islam.

The intensity of the contrast, and the knowledge that the world prefers the likes of Hamas and an army of murderers, whose goal is death and destruction, to the kindness and goodness of our people who love life and are filled with goodness, tore at my heart.

The unjustness of it reverberated throughout my soul. It wasn't that it was unfair. This is war, and there is neither fairness nor unfairness in war.  We are grateful, not bitter, for the sacrifice willingly made, and we honor their memory. But that we who are good and kind and desire to better the world and help others are despised, and the monsters who perpetrate horrors and love death are admired by the world - this is unjust !

When the eulogies finished, there I was at the burial site of all 3 boys, physically laid to rest side by side.  These are the beautiful sons of all of us, Am Yisrael, because in Israel, we are one family.

As i laid fresh sand and touched a farewell to Moshe, Dor and Barkai, there was one final reminder. A boom was heard overhead as Iron Dome took out another missile above us, punctuating what this was all about, reminding us of the unfinished business at hand.

May we finish the job for the sake of these three and all the rest, that they did not die in vain.

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