Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Today I attended the deeply emotional and yet inspirational funeral this morning for Max Steinberg,A"H, the lone soldier from Los Angeles
Dear Counsel General David Siegel, Rabbi Topp, Rabbi Weil, Rabbi Mandel, and everyone else copied on this email
I attended the deeply emotional and yet inspirational funeral this morning for Max Steinberg,A"H, the lone soldier from Los Angeles.
I must admit that being a mother of a lone soldier who came to Israel to spend some time with my son Shimmy who is a lone soldier, I was hesitant to attend as the feelings of despair, sadness and tales of tragedy were beginning to get to me as I was here since the kidnappings. The thought of attending a funeral of a lone soldier from LA was a bit too close to home.
Thank G-d my son is safe on a base in the Negev(though the rockets are probably still being shot at Beer Sheva near his base) as he has just started his advanced training in artillery.
The sadness of the past days has been overwhelming, with the tragic deaths of soldiers and reading about their lives and seeing stories about them on the news here. I must admit I was beginning to succomb to the sadness even while reading some of the heroic stories of some of the soldiers.
Also, that hate, that anti- Semitic virulent hate, from our enemies Hamas and indeed, across the world, the violent hateful protests against us,the victims, really was starting to wear me down.
The funeral began with a warning given twice that in case of rocket attack, all attendees must lay down and cover their heads, set the tone for what Israel must endure. Thank G-d Jerusalem has not had any sirens for the past 12 days or so, thank G-d.
It was so packed that there would have been no room for anyone to lay down, had there been a siren. I read later there were about 30 thousand people there though I couldnt tell from where I was standing.
The respect, the outpouring of guests and dignitaries who spoke words of comfort, including former Ambassador Michael Oren, MK Dov Lipman, a former Justice, friends of Max from his unit, were beautiful.
The thing that helped pull me from my own deep sadness over the entire situation were the speeches by Max's parents, who thanked everyone from the Consul General of Los Angeles and the people at the Consulate who informed them of their terrible loss, to the State of Israel, to Tzahal,and to the entire Israeli public.
Here were parents, I am sure you all know, who had never before been to Israel. Max's father and Jake struggled with the Hebrew while reciting the mourner's kaddish, no disrespect intended. None of the children, including Max, had ever been to Israel until they went with taglit.
Max's father started off with if anyone asks him if he has any regrets about his son's choice to serve in the IDF he said absolutely not, not even for one minute. Max's mother thanked everyone for being so gracious and Max's sister Page thanked everyone for attending the funeral which was heartbreaking. Max's brother Jake said that Max set the bar so high as a brother than he could never hope to reach it.
Truly their words were inspirational but the most amazing thing of all was at the end of his speech, Max's father said Am Yisrael Chai. At the end of the funeral service, the attendees sponaneously quietly sang Hatikva and then Am Yisrael Chai, following Max's father's lead.
Min Hamaamakin- from the depths- to a feeling of being uplifted by the mourners themselves.
I must tell you I needed those words from the Steinberg family for chizuk. The family truly deserves all honor.
Me evel le simcha- after the funeral, I walked through the bustling streets of Jerusalem and saw that Jerusalemites and tourists were all out and about which is a good thing to see in time of war.
I hurried to my brother's home in Jerusalem where I have been staying to Skype into my family's simcha- the bris of my brother's daughter's newborn son, named Gideon George after my mother's father George Bloomberg. To see my parents,(especially my father who is a Survivor) who were able to make it to NY to take part in this momentous occasion of the bris of their first great grandchild was truly wonderful.
Am Yisrael Chai indeed.
Thank you to the Steinberg family for providing all of us with such inspiration and hope. May Max Steinberg always be a source of strength to the entire Jewish and Israeli communities.
With wishes for a complete victory over Hamas and all our enemies who seem to arise in every generation as the Haggada tells us. But with families like the Steinbergs, we shall overcome, im yirtzeh hashem.
Esther Kandel, Jerusalem