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The Passing of Two Heroic Israelis

The Passing of Two Great Israelis

The great Israeli author, Amos Oz, passed away on Friday. Here is a link to his appraisal in the New York Times. I had heard him speak both in Israel and Seattle and was a reader of his books and a supporter of his activism. Israel has played a central role in my life starting from childhood, becoming a central passion in my life after I spent my junior year abroad in 1974-75. Amos Oz was one of the hosts of the Hebrew language who opened the door for me to come in. (Agnon and Amichai were the others.) His observations about the "Matzav" (the current political moment) in Israel were always perceptive and extraordinarily eloquent. He seemed to never give in to despair and always shared his love of Israel and Israelis no matter what was going on in the country.

I love the last quote brought by the New York Times Appraisal:
“I like being Israeli. I like being a citizen of a country where there are eight and a half million prime ministers, eight and a half million prophets, eight and a half million messiahs. Each of us has our own personal formula for redemption, or at least for a solution. Everyone shouts, and few listen. It’s never boring here.”

Oz conveyed the uniqueness of "Israeliness" not only in his writing, but in his very being. He himself was never boring or complacent. He knew in his bones the preciousness of the existence of Israel and never took it for granted. "Ilan Gadol Nafal- a great tree has fallen." wrote David Grossman quoting an old Jewish expression. All the forest shudders from his loss.


A less well known Israeli passed away today. His name was Tzvika Levy. A Kibbutznik like Oz

He served as a combat soldier in the Paratroopers unit in the regular army and reserves and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel after he was appointed to oversee the lone soldiers in the kibbutz movement. Lone soldiers are soldiers that come to Israel from abroad to enlist to the IDF in order to help defend our country. These soldiers are called "lone" since they come alone, and have nowhere to live, no way to make money, and no family nearby. Tzvika's goal was to take care of all those soldiers. Eventually he found and supported a loving home for more that 20,000 of them. He is considered a hero by them, by their friends and families and by this entire country.

Tzvika Levy, Who Cared for Lone Soldiers

I was told about Tzvika by an Israeli friend. Immediately, I recognized that he was a practitioner of hospitality, but on a huge scale. I lead an organization that emphasizes Jewish hospitality practices, In learning about Tzvika and his passionate commitment, I am again inspired by what empathy and compassion can do in the world. May his memory be for a blessing and may his acts of hospitality for the lone soldiers of the IDF resonate for years to come.