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[Page 597]

Liberated by fire

 

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Yehuda Ben Ze'ev

Translated by Ruth Kilner

Son of Chaya (Vinkrantz) and Ze'ev Ben Ze'ev
Kibbutz Ein HaCarmel
Born on December 9th, 1935 in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Jerusalem.
Fell in the six-day war, June 8th, 1967, in Jerusalem.

 

 

In my childhood days, I carried him on my hand,
His beauty and his grace imbued calmness all around him.
In his adolescence, I listened to his words that sprang from a clear and pure font.
In his bravery/valor, buds blossomed offering many fortunes,
When the enemy came upon us, he soared to a place where his booth stood
And he remains alive, forever alive, in Jerusalem of Gold.

Kiryat Borochov Hanoch Vardi

 

Heart's Desire

We visited Yehuda's grave, carved into the mountainside, and this is now part of the vista of Jerusalem. Jerusalem – where Yehuda was born, and where he spent his early childhood. The vista of Jerusalem and its appearance

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were entrenched into his blood, and each time he met the city he was excited anew, finding it inspiring and thrilling. Every time felt like a sacred pilgrimage.

And his yearning and longing for the stones of Jerusalem matured. His heart's desire was fulfilled. Yehuda returned to Jerusalem, to rest there forever.

 

His is How He Bought his House

Yehuda did not merit sitting around at home through his youth. His path was a wandering path: continuing education classes away from home, IDF, Oranim College, studies in Jerusalem. It may be that these wanderings fuelled his strong will, his yearning for his Home, for mankind's Home.

There were never any doubts about the value of home and its contents to Yehuda. He wondered about everyone who needed ideal justification of their lives in the kibbutz home. He did not recognize people's attachment to an intellectual way of life, but rather he understood people's attachment to living practically. The kibbutz was his home, the place he grew up. It was natural, simple, and perfectly self-explanatory.

He built his home, and it was a home furnished with love, filled with enjoyment, purity and beauty, where laughter echoed from the heart of his little one. He conveyed a boundless love to his loved one and daughter. And from here, threads of warmth and light were embroidered and lasted until the old age home.

The circle of life closed. The home was orphaned. And the bereavement process started…

Ein Carmel Yaakov Gordon

 

With This Jerusalem

You fell, Yehuda, in Jerusalem, the eternal Judean city. A son of Ramat Rachel, you freed the city of your birth. You loved Jerusalem so much: the stones, the roads, the dream within, the centers of wisdom – all this attracted you, and held you spellbound. Several times, you described Jerusalem as a magnet for you. And behold, Jerusalem took you, entirely, from us.

Today you remain there, you will never return. And with this Jerusalem, Peace within her name, you will be forever remembered.

Ein Carmel Yael Refaeli

 

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Such Wide Skies Spread Over Jerusalem

Yehuda won't return to us.
Therefore we return to him.
We return to him from our everyday business, full of suspense,
From the smiling eyes of our children, from the depths of pain.
We try to press this knowledge to the depths of our consciousness. To trap it in the cellars of forgetfulness, to open a sliver of hope that is the blessing of the little ones…
And it tricks us ,and returns to us with a thunderbolt of pain.
It returns to us the beloved views of youth, to the rolling peals of laughter.
Returns to us the body's joy and strength.
Returns to us the pats on the shoulder, and the classroom bench,
Returns to us the dreams that were not fulfilled…
Pictures, pictures.
They return to us clear, floating and veiled. Which of them are new, and which are old?
But Yehuda – he will not return to us…
We know he fell. That he is buried with many of his friends, with the best of them.
We know.
We know how fierce the battle was, how mighty the fortress in the presence of your warm, young heart.
We know, but we are human. Only human. We want to believe, to find rest in a sweet illusion. To believe a little longer.
The stones on that hill, they are silent once more. Silent too are the tight-lipped wounded. Silent are the fallen lads.
But there the story has come, with a wild and terrible reputation, shouting from the soil and the rock. And the bulldozer at the end. Turns one hill into another hill, her stubborn and demanding trenches and weapons removed.
Today's Jerusalem shatters its partitions. It removes its battle scars, its armor, its arrow slits.
The heavens are spread so wide over Jerusalem, over its turrets, walls and buildings – Arab and Jewish.
Sky over all, and a fierce brightness that brings you to tears.
Jerusalem is tearful and turbulent.

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The people stream by, stunned, to here and to there. The sounds of their lips, that mutter again here in the squares and there in the alleyways – vanishing like doves, that say: Maybe, finally, peace!?

And on Har Herzl, a breeze meanders, and the pines whisper a prayer…

Kibbutz Ein Carmel Gali

 

The Summer

By Yehuda Ben Ze'ev, of blessed memory

Let us talk a little about the not-so-hot subject of summer.

Fact: “He” is here, with us, within us. It – it is the great, broad, open summer.

“He”: An Israeli with all 248 verses and little moments, a son of this land, the young and firstborn son, the glory and splendor of this place.

Not the paltry winter, the heatwaves where there are hot days between the rainy days.

Our ancient literature and the words of our sages date back to the days of the Mishnah and Talmud. All these years we have been a people settling on its land – and we have known only the summer and winter, and nothing in between them. Winter – the days of rain and cold; and summer- the days of heat and light. These are two, stitched together into the year, like all other contrasts integrated together: “seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night,” (Genesis, 8:22), and also “Summer and winter: you fashioned them” (Psalms 74:17).

Too short, and never considered are the interim periods between the two. The grumpy fall, which hastily slips away like a maiden at a street corner, and the unruly spring, furious like a madman who is dying, and who is concerned with releasing all his might before his days are over, and then only the great summer remains, the firstborn and the generation between the two of this land.

Why summer – rooted, the end (ketz)? – It seems to me that the end of the ripening of the fruit and its full maturation – happens in the season known as kayitz (summer). And indeed, it is not simply ferociously burning hot days; these days are not the season of yearning. This is the time of great fruitfulness. Summer, parallel to the fruit, represents plenty; it symbolizes blessing.

Winter is the time to plant seeds; spring is the season to breed and plant – it symbolizes awakening and intoxication, as the plants grow and flourish. And the summer – summer is the season of fruit and fruitfulness, the season of gathered blessings, the delight of the harvester. “Gather wine and summer and oil” (Jeremiah 3). Summer is the fruit, the blessing of the crop, it is like

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the vintage and the gathering: “the spoiler is fallen on your summer fruits and your vintage” (Jeremiah 48). The plenty and the heaps of grain, the bounty, the plentitude, the abundance, the blessing of plenty –these are all the soul's summer landscapes.

We said, of all the children of the land, he is the most faithful and beloved of his parents. As he grew, there was no room for narrow passages, for small glimmering moments, for comings and goings. Shouting, and not moaning. A chasm. When we saw him close to us, many will cover their eyes with dark glasses.

Maybe like the great deeds of the sons of this land,

Like the great truths that were born here, so is the summer great, and great in its deeds.

The children of this place know of the great power and the many actions.

The days are long, and tired from the abundance. Thousands of channels, through which the blessing continues, brim with crops. Also the wind that blows as it comes brings with it activity and renewal, a type of harvest of long anticipation days;

Particularly in the hot days of summer – good, stimulating produce brings satisfaction to those who frequently seek her shade. And it seems to me that a great many of those in this camp were partners in this spiritual and cultural abundance.

We will yet remember the loveable intoxication of these nights, the summer nights. When you go out into these summer nights, they conquer you from the inside, and they strengthen you intently, with a strength equivalent to the strength of childhood memories, of the best story you ever heard.

(From his Ein Carmel diary) Yehuda Ben Zeev
<> 

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Jerusalem

For the soul of Yehuda Ben Ze'ev, a son of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel,
and a man of Ein Hacarmel, who fell in Jerusalem

by Egdar Eldan

Between you and her there was a cry.
Your mother wrapped your body in hers in the birthing room.
And then your bare feet
Wrote your years on her stones. A second cry on your knees
Opposite her skies, you cried to your father
And you went a distance to return to her. A third cry you did not cry
In vain you tried to rise
Toward Jerusalem, that lay dying in your childhood Above your darkening eyes
The nights glow.

********************

You were the firstborn of death
And on you, Jerusalem rests.
Your mother, to her you were taken
She descends incessantly.
You will not rise to her
Because on you Jerusalem rests
And you on the nights of your mother.
Go in them, go and cry.
In her dream, she extends her hand
Crying out from stone to stone, on her back she supports
To hold Jerusalem, so it doesn't fall on you
Full of stone.
In order to not crush your body completely.

********************

To your children, you are not.
To your mother, you died as you sleep.
Return to be a babe
Playing in the muddy puddles
Her eyes turning red.

********************

Around you, the dark surrounds like a wall
Whose stones are ever cracking.
On her soles are stuck the lament
And death written before and behind.
Darkness surrounds your body as a wall.
You are surrounded by reversing movement.
The thread of distance twists and twists
Fastening your body around and back
Thought after thought
Dropping prayer to its knees
Opposite the blue, rising up like a wall. Now with forehead to the stone, turning purple,
On your lips, the stem that is revealed
On which glimmering moments are scratched
Without sunrise.

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Suddenly your body is dark, dark; darkness surrounds
And closes like a wall.
Listen, Yehuda – You are one.

********************

A powerful tremor
Sun scattered by a gate
Sun veiled by sackcloth.
Before this night
Braids tinged with light.
An infant moon of blood
For tonight.
The star cools the star
The star drops against the star.
Like a wrinkled old fig in the powerful tremor
The name of this night.
The heavens that shattered
Landwards and wander
On the earth they search
For the one verse
And they find it.

********************

All the time that they stop suddenly,
All the time that stands turning white
The weeping bones pass
No silence can quiet
The teeth that clamp as hill after hill
For a whole night the moon lends its voice
And the sun takes its place in the morning.
A boy was here. Here is love. Now
he is born in diapers of dust
The earth closes him in its vaults
From the cold floor rise the voices of his limbs
He will not come to us
Who call from the depths
We too are only
Toys of heaven
Crying out.


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Tzvika Rosenberg, of blessed memory

by Hanoch Vardi

Translated by Ruth Kilner

Corporal Tzvika Rosenberg, of blessed memory, son of Elhanan and Raaya Rosenberg, Kfar Vatikin, born on Kibbutz Nir David on June 11th, 1949, fell in the Jordan Valley battle, 3 Iyar 5729 – April 21st, 1969.

Who spoke and who decided that we need to stand here and eulogize you, cut down in your prime?

Israel, the gazelle (Heb: tzvi),
A vacuum from your death
Why do heroes fall?

Our dear Tzvika, you were so delightful. Light and joy always radiated around you,
You helped others with your kindness –
You were so vibrant, so lively…

Elchanan, my dear childhood friend, the bereft Raaya, and dearest Mira – how can I comfort you? Or maybe I should ask, how can we all be comforted? The sacrifice was not only yours – he was ours: he was bone of our bones, and flesh of our flesh! Darling Tzvika, we are proud of you: you fell as a hero in the battlefield defending our renewed homeland.

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An elevation offering, the fire elevates completely…

With complete pride, value, and thanksgiving, we are surrounded by a deep sorrow and pain. And how can we be comforted? If your sacrifice was necessary, then everything on the earth, immersed in such precious blood, will be forever holy to us. We can now live safely and freely in our land.

And the solution, though maybe temporary, is as written in the book of Psalms:

Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!

My dearest Tzvi,

You had the merit of being buried in the earth of your homeland, which you so loved.

You were one with everything around you. You loved each plant, each seed, each sprout – everything above us, to one side and the other – and now you will rest everlasting in their bosom.

Magnificent Tzvi,

The earth of your homeland will look after you, and your pure, bright, innocent, endearing, untainted soul should be bound with us in the bond of life and creation.

Hanoch Vardi
(Words offered at the gravesite on the 30th day after burial: 4 Sivan, 5729 – May 21st, 1969, Kfar Vatikin cemetery)

 

Tzvi Rosenberg, of blessed memory

Corporal Tzvi Rosenberg of blessed memory, a son of Kfar Vatikin, fell in the Jordan Valley battle.

Tzvi, son of Elchanan and Raaya, was 19 when he fell. He was a child of tender age when his parents settled in Kfar Vatikin, 15 years ago. His father was the manager of the Moshav's water institute, and his mother worked in the kindergarten.

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After finishing the local school, he studied mechanics in the ORT vocational school in Netanya for four years. Immediately after finishing his studies, he was recruited into the army. Tzvi was a good–natured and friendly boy with many friends, and he was due to come home on Yom Ha'atzmut (Israeli Independence Day). His death put the village into deep mourning.

 

Tzvika

With bowed heads, we stand beside your fresh grave. Your years pass before my eyes. I remember you as a small boy, pleasant and happy at kindergarten and in the local school. And behold, I remember the day of your accident, when by some miracle were you were spared. You fought between life and death; your will to live prevailed; and you were saved.

The years passed, and you grew up into a young man. You finished the local school and went to the high school in Emek Hefer (Hefer valley). A year later, you switched schools to Ort in Netanya. Time continued to pass, and your had to report to the army: tests; checks; questions about which corps; decisions…

Time continued passing, and your enlistment day arrived. The last night before your enlistment, you bade farewell to the neighbors and we all accompanied you to Hadera, and hoped you'd come home safely.

Your basic training weeks went by, and you were considered for the commander training course. Really? You could cope with the efforts required by this course after all that you went through following your accident? Although you told me more than once that it was not easy for you, your will to continue and finish gave you strength. You gritted your teeth, bit your lips, stifled the pain and finished the course.

Every vacation, even if it only lasted several hours, you came to us; always with a smile on your lips hoping that things would be better, quieter, and that we wouldn't worry. And this is how it was on your last vacation. After seven weeks, you had a vacation that only lasted a few precious hours. You came to us in the evening, tired after a long journey, and after the incident in which you were involved, and by a miracle were you saved. You told how in the next few days you would be having a longer vacation. You were happy, you smiled as always when you bade me goodbye…

And a week later, on Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance day), the terrible news arrived… Tzvika has fallen! This time, no miracle saved you, and death embraced you.

We are still in shock, and cannot yet believe it. Will you really no longer return?

May his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.

Shoshana


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In Memory

by A. Turban, Kfar Vatikin

Translated by Ruth Kilner

He came home from the trenches for the evening. “I'll be back for the holiday”, he said. He returned home from the heights for an everlasting night.

Tzvika was born twenty years ago in Kibbutz Nir David. He and his parents lived on the kibbutz for two and a half years, where the partisans and ghetto fighters had gathered. They then spent six months in Netanya, after which they arrived at Kfar Vatikin.

As a child in kindergarten, Tzvika fell in love with flowers. He would sit in the neighbors' gardens and pick flower after flower, as his pleasure grew and grew. At times, he would empty all the ornamental gardens with his zeal for flowers. At school, he did not stand out; rather he always liked to conform. He was quiet, neat, and never raised his voice.

At eight and a half, a terrible accident happened to Tzvika. A wild horse hit him in his belly with a wagon shaft, and he sustained internal injuries. For two months, he lay in his sickbed, hovering between life and death. His doctors noted how unusual it was that he remained alive, with his pancreas torn and damaged so badly. Those were hard days, his family full of fear, as they stood by helplessly watching the wondrous fight their eight and a half year old child put up. His tremendous will and his love of life eventually won. He gradually recovered from his sickness, and after many months, he returned to us. At times, he felt strong pains, but he could hide it from most people, most of the time.

Having been off school for such a long period of time, Tzvika had to take private lessons to catch up with the rest of his class, but the gap was hard for him to close. He recognized this weakness, and consoled his parents, “Never mind, we don't all need to be academics. The country also needs good workers and tradesmen. The most important thing is to be a good person.”

Within a short period of time, Tzvika had established a warm friendly connection with his teacher and her household. He quickly became like one of their family members. He would play with the children; tell them stories and include his teacher in his and his family's experiences. This was how he was with all his friends and acquaintances of which there were many. He would sit in the neighbors' houses and talk to them. He would tell them things and ask them questions, consult with them and show interest in what they were doing. And he was always available to help. He entertained many friends in his home. On Fridays after

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Youth Group, the children would meet up at Tzvika's, where he would host them and feed them, he would put in the effort and serve them the best at his table. And they would sit and chat, spending time together until late into the night. The habit of providing hospitality was deep seated in Tzvika's veins: it was his parents' house that planted this seed. And he cheerfully welcomed every person who came into the house with caring and warmth. He was always happy to serve guests in his house.

He started at the local high school, but after a year he felt a preference for the technical over the academic, and switched to the ORT school. He found his place in the agri–mechanics course, and he was decisively amongst the best and most diligent students.

When the six–day war broke out, and the village emptied of its high–school graduates, Tzvika and his friends started to organize themselves to help the farms that had been left without any work hands. The following day, the neighbor's son was called up to the army, and Tzvika took upon himself the milking, which he did perfectly and proficiently. This was not enough for him, and he went from neighbor to neighbor, offering his help to everyone. He collected eggs here… fed animals there… travelled to the field and brought back a wagon full of beets… ran to the orchard and moved the lines… and it was all done with zeal, and Tzvika was always ready to do more. When one of the neighbors offered to pay him for his help, Tzvika was offended and said, “If I hear anything more about money, I'm leaving this work.”

When the time came for Tzvika to be tested and checked before his recruitment into the army, Tzvika started to worry. His fear grew daily, until he became miserable. He fell behind in his studies, and he was very depressed. He worried that he would not be accepted into the army due to his accident, and this ate away at him.

“It can't happen. Everyone will go to the army, but I won't. All my friends: Danny, Tully, Natan and David. They'll all volunteer for the combat units. And what will I do? Best case scenario, I'll be given an inadequate fitness rating, and I'll be a paper pusher. What a disgrace. I must go with them! I want to be like everyone else.”

And Tzvika went to the army with his friends. He left ORT a year before finishing so he could go together with them. To everyone's surprise, he passed all his medical tests and was declared fit enough for combat.

Tzvika enlisted, and was sent to a squad officers' course. No–one could have been happier than he was, particularly after all the difficulties he'd had to overcome. He advanced thanks to the strength of his will, and he started to gain self–confidence. However, his pains then started to return. His friends convinced him to see the medical committee. It took a lot for him to agree, but he eventually complied. He managed to convince the committee that it was a childhood ailment that he suffered, and they eventually only dropped his health rating by a couple of points.

He remained a combat soldier, continued his course, and completed it.

Throughout the difficult time of his officers' course, Tzvika completed all his tasks and duties that he was given. He was a very good soldier: He didn't stand out; he didn't try

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to draw attention to himself; he always did his duty faithfully, and he never once complained to his friends that he found it hard.

After his officer training course finished, he was sent to an artillery course. He studied the workings of Russian artillery seized during the six–day war, and upon completing his studies, he was sent to serve in the artillery corps.

Tzvika served in the artillery corps for close to a year. He and his team passed all borders, and they participated in many operations. Firstly, they partook in operations in the Golan Heights, in the cold and the mud, then in the Jordan Valley with its never–ending gunfire, and then by the Suez Canal, with its heat and dust, and finally at Al–Hama.

Tzvika had vacations very rarely. When he came home, he would soothe his parents, assuring they had nothing to worry about. Only one time, after a particularly long stretch of operations, he told his father, “We have a serious band, there”.

In the heat of battle, he was excellent at keeping a cool and calm head. These characteristics afforded him considerable accuracy during operations, and his team quickly became the most exceptional squad. Every target hit made Tzvika roar with joy. His reaction served as an example to the rest of his team, who followed his orders wholeheartedly. Tzvika did not shout at his soldiers, rather, he led by personal example, and acted as a model. with dedication and responsibility, he and his quietness conquered the hearts of all his men. His honesty and his loyalty helped him become a truly beloved commander and friend. He would chat to the soldiers, show interest in their lives and tell them about his family, his village, and his plans; his sister, who was a better student than himself and of whom he was very proud; his parents, who worried about him and helped him realize his goals; his book that he loved, but mainly about his plans for the future.

Tzvika dreamed about farming. At first, he considered going to live on a kibbutz, but he decided that he would prefer to be a moshavnik . He hoped to buy a farm in the moshav, a goal fully supported by his parents, who had set aside all their savings for this purpose. Later, he came to the conclusion that a farm in an established village was not challenging enough, and so he aspired to go to a new moshav, and build something out of nothing.

When he received packages from home, he would gather his team together, and divide the parcel between everyone. This is also how he celebrated his nineteenth birthday.

Shy Tzvika, who loved everything to do with music, would break out in song, and his friends would join in. During one operation, the truck that stored all their equipment was hit, and it was destroyed. When he realized this, Tzvika burst out laughing. Everyone looked at him. “All my equipment is gone: my kitbag, my clothes, and my transistor. Never mind, my father will buy me new things. The important thing is that no one was hurt, and we're all fit and well.”

Seven weeks in the Suez Canal. He went through many operations, and participated in all the battles. Finally, it was time for his longed–for vacation. Tzvika came home for one day. Tomorrow, he had to return

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to the squadron. His good friend promised him to save a bed in his neighborhood. The following day, he was supposed to have a regular vacation: a long vacation.

The last battle was particularly fierce. The team, some of whose men had been wounded in the previous operation, fought long hours. The battery worked at breakneck speed. Their hits were accurate. In the end, the enemy's artillery had their battery in range. The command was given to enter the bunker. Tzvika ensured all his men were inside. He remained the last one. A direct hit – and Tzvika fell.

“Mother! Understand that we are at war. Battles are taking place, and in battle, anything can happen. If something happens to me, don't break; don't let your spirits fall. Be strong. Life must continue!” (From Tzvika's last letter)

(Emek Hefer Area News
Number 26–27
Tamuz 5729 – July 1969)


To the Driver

In memory of Tzvika, of blessed memory

If you travel in the North, certainly you know
He sits behind you, silently.
“Stop here at the junction,” – as if you are rushing,
He says, “Thank you” – and disappears. And you wonder for a moment – where was he from?
With his machine gun, and his black beret on his head,
He slept last night with his sights and bullets –
The fate of all who were the black beret. And you heard the news – maybe you recall –
The Canal, the Valley, and the Heights,
And the home, where nostalgia sings
All who wear the beret in silence… And once to holiday everyone went
New to her, so eagerly watched –

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Just one is not on the road
And you – oh, the anxiety – do you not feel!
Where did the proud and warm smiling one go?
Whose heart fills with mercy for him?
The morning breeze reveals the secret:
To the bosom of his beautiful land he returned If you travel in the North, certainly you know
He sits behind you, silently.
“Stop here at the junction,” – as if you are rushing,
He says, “Thank you” – and disappears.
 
Sergeant Flesher
Battery 130 Platoon commander


The Grey Day

  1. Really, just a normal morning
    Total silence, peace, tranquility.
    Just birdsong,
    Just normal flapping of wings.
  2. Suddenly, the familiar cry
    Of the battery target.
  3. Immediately, we fastened our belts, We kissed the signs on our shoulders
    Steel helmets on our heads
    And immediately took our positions.
  4. Some seconds passed
    and “Fire!” was heard from all sides.
    Not much time went by
    and we started firing too
    spread all around.
  5. We silenced several stations
    We silenced several batteries,
    Here and there, hither and thither
  6. But he continued calmly,
    “Fire!” he called stalwartly
    And his hand pulled the rope.
  7. A shell went over our post,
    A shell came up short of our post,
    But our team did not abandon our place.
  8. Ordered to lay in place
    And the team immediately
    Listened to his instruction.
  9. And suddenly… suddenly,
    Always the same wayward shell
    Landed on our position – And he is no more.

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  1. Not so very long ago
    We caught together on the hillside.
    Not so very long ago
    We called together, “Fire, Fire!”
  2. We finished the course,
    And started another,
    And then another
    And then time ended.
    But who knew what
    The artillery course
    Could cause to occur?
  3. Only yesterday I spoke to you,
    Only yesterday I laughed with you,
    We divided up our food and snacks,
    And swapped shifts.
  4. I heard your voice this morning
    Your usual galloping laugh,
    You were not scared – “Fire” you called,
    And your hand pulled the rope with confidence.
    But see, what happened.
  5. My sleep is not sleep,
    You are always before my eyes,
    All the time I see you
    And your laugh my ears always hear.

May his memory be forever blessed.

 
David Malia
Member of Battery 130 Platoon


Kibbutz Maaleh Hachamisha, 26 April, 1969

Warmest greetings to you, Elchanan Rosenberg and family,

You do not know me, but I felt compelled to write a few words to you about your son, Tzvika, of blessed memory, who was one of my soldiers.

Tzvika came to me to my unit after being a cadet in the army for a long time. In my unit, Tzvika transformed from a cadet into a soldier, and later into a commander, responsible for his own unit of soldiers.

The transformation from cadet to soldier is a process where all that has been learned must be implemented into action – the character, the self– initiative of the operator stands out. Tzvika proved himself completely in this important process.

He was a quiet lad, who preferred to hide his abilities – but he was very disciplined and was blessed with a strong will to do everything in the best possible way.

I could trust him with anything.

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At first, he was deputy commander of the team, working with new and unfamiliar artillery, but he worked dependably. Later, when the older soldiers in the team were released from the army, it was obvious and natural that Tzvika would take one of the most responsible positions.

I initially worried a little about Tzvika being so quiet, that he wouldn't be capable of raising his voice to the group when needed; that he wouldn't be firm enough – but his calmness and quietness managed to work with the team that he was given.

I have tried to paint you a picture of Tzvika's character as I knew him in the months he was my soldier, and as I remember him at the start of his steps as an IDF officer.

Never in my life did I think I would need to write these words about my soldier, I always felt confident that no one could hurt us, and we would never be overcome – but we are only made of flesh and blood.

I could not believe initially that Tzvika, of blessed memory, had fallen, but when I saw his photo in the newspaper, a shiver passed over my body and I suddenly felt as if he was standing there in front of me.

I am with you in your mourning.

I would like to say how important it is for Tzvika and the many others who have fallen, that we must live our lives in this country to their fullest – in joy, and sadness; through smiles and tears – because their deaths have given us our lives.

Be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Yours,

Yosi Ya'ari
Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hachamisha

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