On the day before Yom Hazikaron, the New York Times published this story about one of Israel’s fallen soldiers. Gil’ad, an only child, was a lieutenant killed during the Yom Kippur War. A talented musician, he was given the opportunity to serve in the army’s music division, but instead joined a combat unit with his friends, according to his mother.
“He said, ‘If anything happens to them and I’m in the entertainment corps, I’ll feel terrible,’ ” she recalled. “ ‘I’ll get to be 35, I’ll be a bad husband, a bad father, a bad driver.’ ”
He did not get to be 35, of course.
After he was killed, an acquaintance of his mother wanted to name her child in his honor; after that, the naming snowballed: his commanding officer’s son, other relatives and the members of his unit followed suit. According to the article, 23 babies on three different continents were named after him.
The namesakes of the Gil’ad who died in the Yom Kippur War include a professor in London “who became interested in Yiddish theater,” the mother said, and a nephew of hers in the United States. One grew up on Gil’ad’s father’s kibbutz and now lives in a Jerusalem suburb, and another — her brother’s grandson — is in the Israeli bedroom community of Beit Shemesh.
There are girls named for Gil’ad, too — one called Gili is studying hotel management, and another, Geulah, is “a brilliant attorney,” the original Gil’ad’s mother said.
The short article is a potent reminder of the bonds that hold Israeli society together. Even though soldiers in Israel die, they are never forgotten.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.