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Monday, May 5, 2014

Becoming a "Real Israeli"

I've heard what I'm going to say from many people. The family of a Begin Prize winner said it, too:
There is something about losing a family member or friend to one of Israel's wars or Arab terrorism etc. and joining the masses of the Israeli bereaved that makes one become "a real Israeli." 
True, it's a terrible rite of passage into the Israeli culture and society.  It's a unifying trauma that happens to all stratum of Israeli society, rich, poor, religious, secular, new-comer (olim,) veteran and even some who aren't even Jewish.

Unfortunately, we did "joined the club" pretty early, only three years after our aliyah, when two friends from our American Betar days were killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Charles "Chuck" Haim Hornstein חיים (הרן) הורנשטיין הי"ד" and Eli Michael Solomon אלי סולומון הי"ד".

The tie between us and our remaining friends from the 1960's Betar New York seem to just get stronger with the years. We celebrate and mourn together throughout the year and over decades. When my son got married,  we were only able to invite one table of friends, so they were the friends. They are like family for us and our children, too. And unfortunately, those Betar friends who ended up remaining in the states seem to suffer terribly from their being so far from us. Israel and Zionism brought us together and keep us together.
Li'ilui Nishmatam, May their souls ascend even higher...
Charles "Chuck" Chaim Hornstein חיים (הרן) הורנשטיין הי"ד"
Eli Michael Solomon אלי סולומון הי"ד"
May their memories be a blessing, and may we enjoy more smachot (happy occasions) together rather than grave time.


YMedad said...

While the thought is admirable, I don't think "only" is applicable. You can better understand what it is to be an Israeli if born abroad and make aliyah and yes, there are other ways to become Israeli but "only"?

Rickismom said...

I have to agree with Medad. I have several friends who have lost loved ones- and see their pain. However I have never (thank G-d) list someone I knew. But I feel that since I have had 2 sons in the army I more than feel and qualify as a real Israeli

Batya Medad said...

Maybe "only" should be edited out, but there is something in the experience that is like a crash course in the Israeli experience like no other. And my sons both did full frontline army service.

yosef said...

Our family suffered thousands of mortar attacks over a five year period in Gush Katif (Rare is the soldier during a war who experiences such an onslaught); I've also attended tens of funerals for neighbors killed by arabs. This doesn't make me an "Israeli" (that happened when I made aliyah), it makes me a victim of Israeli govt. self hatred and ghetto mentality.

Batya Medad said...

yosef, it's how your define Israeli. Straight legal status or getting deeper into the culture. When I talk to those born and raised here, who feel that my American accent separates me, that separation decreases when they find out that I lost close friends in war here decades ago and that we go to the cemetery every year.

Lorri M. said...

This is a thought-provoking post, and an illuminating one. Thank you.

Batya Medad said...

Lorri, thanks