Today We Buried Gadalia - היום קוברים את גדליה

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Today we buried my 21-year-old nephew Gedalya. At midnight last night   four soldiers and a doctor knocked on my sister Penina's door. Her husband Simcha had just left for the Ukraine on a mission for the Jewish Agency. They called him in the Ukraine to tell him to come home for his son's funeral.

At 7 AM, they called me. I had to tell the rest of the family. I can tell you that although the fear is always there, the worry about "hearing the knock," you are never prepared. The shock is total. The grief is inconsolable.

Twice today the radio replayed a recording of Gedalya's interview on the Army Radio Station. He told how he saw himself as a teacher of his soldiers. His mission was to teach them to be ethical, moral, and humane in their treatment of others. He would not allow any of his soldiers to insult or mistreat Arabs whom they encountered while carrying out their duties. When asked to describe himself he said, "I am a humane soldier."

During the fighting in Jenin, Gedalya had candies in his pocket and whenever he came across Arab children, he gave them candies to calm them down so they would not be afraid of the Israeli soldiers.

Gedalya was a poet, composer, and musician. He played piano beautifully. And he was a master at computers. At the age of 17, he even set up his own computer business, which he closed down when he went into the army.

Every unit in the army wanted him. He could have had any job he wanted. But he hid from the army the fact that he suffered from severe asthma, and somehow got himself into a combat unit.

His soldiers said that Gedalya only gave; he never took for himself. He was always calm and collected, always a smile, always optimistic, always doing things 110% perfect. He radiated an inner strength. He was blue-eyed perfection.

Gedalya fought terrorists in Rammala and then went on to Jenin.

The fighting in Jenin was very difficult. Yesterday, two of the soldiers who were killed were brought by stretcher to where Gedalya was. He quickly ran to help take the stretchers. All of a sudden, Gedalya shouted "It's Matanya!" and broke down crying. Matanya was his best friend. Gedalya then saw that the other soldier killed was his other good friend. The Commander quickly slapped Gedalya and told him to stop crying, saying "Tomorrow there will be time to mourn." But "tomorrow" Gedalya himself was dead.

At 9 PM, Gedalya was killed. The battalion commanders were in a room with other officers when a sniper shot him through the window. The bullet hit a grenade he was wearing.

At Gedalya's funeral today, his friend Yiftah spoke. Yiftah said that three of their friends had already been killed. One was buried only yesterday. In a poignant voice, Yiftah declared: "Only you and I are left, Gedalya. I am like a wall; I have no tears left. I cannot cry, and I want to cry."

After the funeral, I called my mother (Gedalya's grandmother) in Miami Beach to tell her that it was over and that everything is going to be all right. She answered: "It will never be all right again."

Gedalya died defending Israel, so that there would be a home for all Jews. Would that his death not be in vain!

Relevant Links:
1. נזכור את כולם -גדליה רוז
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