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Small South Texan Jewish Community Mourns Death of IDF Sergeant Sean Carmeli, Killed in Gaza

July 20, 2014 6:07 pm 50 comments

Deceased IDF soldier Sean Carmeli. Photo: Facebook.

The Jewish community of a south Texas beach town was in mourning on Sunday after it was informed that one of its sons was among the Israeli troops that fell in a bloody Gaza battle on Saturday night.

Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, had moved to Ra’anana from South Padre Island (population 2800, Jewish population 75), where his family moved from Israel over twenty years ago. His parents are Alon and Dalya Carmeli.

“The whole community feels like they lost their own son,” Rabbi Yonatan, the family’s rabbi told The Algemeiner on Sunday. “The family is completely devastated,” Rabbi Asher Hecht, another rabbi/friend said.

“We are in a very bad situation here,” Yonatan said. “It was very hard for everybody.”

Both rabbis had just accompanied Sean’s parents to the airport for their flight to Israel to bury their son.

Sean was the youngest of three children, and with two older sisters, Gal and Or, was an only son. All family members are American citizens.

“When his father would talk about him there was a sparkle in his eyes, he was very proud of him, he was a warrior in the Israeli Army,” Rabbi Yonatan said.

Both rabbis and a friend, Mendy Fellig, described Sean as a “gentle” soul who “loved to smile all the time.”

“He was just a happy good spirited person,” Fellig said.

Tens of other friends flocked to Sean’s Facebook page to pay their respects, posting their memories and praise of the young man.

His family is secular and he attended public school growing up, but was “very proud of being Jewish,” Rabbi Hecht said. The family was part of a small community of Israelis that run beach clothing and souvenir shops on the Island.

“He went to Yeshiva just before entering the army,” Hecht said. “He was very satisfied, he thought it would help complete him as a Jew, spending some time learning Torah in a serious manner.”

The last time Sean’s father spoke to his son was on Wednesday when Sean shared that his army officer had quizzed him over an unrelated minor leg injury. Responding to the officer’s suggestion that he may not be fit for service, Sean had said, “Brusie or no bruise I am coming with you.”

“He was enthusiastic to go in and to fight for the Jewish people, and he gave his life for the Jewish people,” Rabbi Hecht said.

Yonatan praised Sean’s family as charitable, and as pillars of the small community.

Prayers were said for the young man’s safety in the local synagogue over Shabbat and all Saturday night friends and neighbors stayed with Sean’s parents awaiting news from Israel. “We didn’t know for sure if he was involved in what happened last night (in Gaza),” Yonatan said.

The rabbis said that the local Shoova Israel Synagogue on South Padre Island is dedicated and named in memory of Sean’s grandfather Nissim whom Sean was named after.

“The Shul (synagogue) will (now) be named for both,” Rabbi Yonatan said.


  • Carrie Steinhart

    To the family of Sargent Nissim Carmeli,
    Words can’t express my sorrow for your loss. Nissim, without a doubt, gave the ultimate sacrifice for what he believed in. It must be bittersweet for he died for a cause, a true hero. He will forever live on in our hearts.
    With sympathy and compassion,
    Israel Forever!!!
    My brother is there now, volunteering for the IDF, assisting with medical supplies. I am so proud of him.

  • Ruth Gimbel

    Our condolences to the Carmeli family. Your loss is greatly felt by many.
    Nissim Sean Carmeli will live in the hearts of many as an incredibly courageous man.
    He came to the defenses of Israel, of his own will, in one of Israel’s darkest times.
    and he made the ultimate sacrifice, with his life.
    The Gimbel family.

  • Karen Frontera

    So sorry for your loss. Your son was so courageous and was doing a mitzvah for all Jews in the world. May he Rest in Peace.

  • Caroline Lee

    Dear Carmeli Family, our son Gad Noach Lee was close to your son during their time at Aish Yeshivah in Jerusalem. He speaks of Sean as a close and dear friend whom Gad got to know well. A sweet and honest man and a loyal lover of Israel and all jews.If this is how he will be remembered, you as parents and Hashem, our father, made a mench of blessed memory. We cannot feel your pain but know that Sean’s impact on the world sends a ripple in all directions and leaves its mark. G-d bless you all. Kol tuv

  • Abigayil Lopez

    My deepest condolences to this mishpacha on this horrible news. Their son is a hero for fighting for the peace of Israel. Am Israel Chai. May HaShem help them through this difficult time. Baruch Dayan HaEmet

  • Julie Marelli

    My condolences to the Carmeli family. May your Hero rest in peace.

  • 40,000 people came to respect Sean in his funeral
    We will miss you! (Maccabi Haifa fans).

  • Riezenman Family

    Dear Dalya, Alon, Gal and Or:
    Our hearts ache learning about the death of Sean, another life taken before his time. We can only say that you are in our hearts and thoughts. Sean is a hero of the jewish people and we can only hope that his sacrifice will lead to peace in the future

  • Mel Pearlman

    I cannot add anything but sorrow, tears and condolences to the story of this fallen young Jewish-Israeli American who more than most understood his American and Jewish heritage; and the fact that they were intrinsically linked to who he was as a human being and to the destiny of his two beloved countries.

    May his memory be for a blessing.

  • Greg Berman

    Although I don’t know this hero, his story has brought me to tears and has touched me. In his short life, he has done so much to make his family and people proud.

  • O Lord. Hear Israel crying and saves them from the beast of hamas.

  • simcha mirvis

    when is the funeral. I would like to attend.

    • Dear Friends,
      Sean’s story touched my heart deeply as well as the heearts of hundreds of other strangers who never knew him. Just so his family should know: the fans of his beloved soccer team, Maccabi Haifa, have posted details of his funeral on Facebook and they are asking everyone to attend his funeral so he won’t be laid to rest alone. Hundreds of people have confirmed their attendance in order to pay their respects to this wonderful young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his people and his country. I salute Sean and his fallen comrades. May he rest in peace and bask in the glory of G-d’s eternal light, Amen. Shalom from Israel.

  • my condolences,to the Carmeli family.Your Son is a Hero.

  • Judith Honigsblum

    Dear Dalya, Alon, Gal and Or:

    Moshe and my heart are broken. I can not even write. Seany boy. This is how I used to call
    him when we lived in Texas. Dalya, I remember what a happy boy Seany boy was. I remember the car pool takimg the kids to Karate. I always had a great time with your kids. I can’t believe this would happen to Seany boy.

  • Simone Miller

    My condolences to the Family. Your son was a hero of the Jewish People.

  • Go with G_d Sgt. Carmeli, till we meet again.

  • Anna Chosak

    Good night, sweet prince. You are forever enshrined in our hearts as a hero and defender of our people.

  • Deidren Cantu

    What a loss for America and Israel! My deepest sympathies for the parents and sisters of this young man. Praying for your family and for Israel.

  • Know that your son died “al kiddush hashem”.
    He is in the highest heaven with the greatest tzadikim.
    He is happy.

  • Know that your son died “al kiddush hashem” He is in the highest heaven. He is happy.

  • Israel Rozemberg

    Baruch Dayan haEmet. No amount of thanks is enough to fill his void. But now his spirit is a part of Hashem.

  • GOD Bless HIM and his family!
    Thank you Sean for defending Israel !

    • Richard Wahl

      To the family of Sgt. Sean Carmeli

      May he rest in Peace my thanks for his sacrifice in protecting Israel.

  • Bob and Peggy Paris

    So sorry for your loss. It brings this terrible conflict right to our doorstep on South Padre Island. This brave young man belonged to the larger community and fought for his heart in Israel.

  • Harold Tobin

    We share in your grief and pain

  • Rozanne Polansky

    May Hashem comfort the entire family in their and our time of sorrow. We in Israel consider every soldier our son and one of ours is no longer here. May his memory be for a blessing and may our courageous IDF forces clean out the vermin that is infiltrating our land.

  • Steve Pollack

    My condolences to your family. Sean must have been a wonderful son & brother. He was courageous. Steve in Columbus Ohio

  • Preston Mardenborough

    May HASHEM bestow many blessings on this family. I am a Christian about to convert to judaism. So very hard to lose a son. I am truly sorry.

  • Jeremy Brown - Europe

    Heart felt wishes to the family. A valued life sadly cut short as Israel fights to protect & secure Eretz Yisroel, our Jewish homeland.

  • It was such a sad piece of news; and as I read the details of this young man’s life, his family and his American-Israeli community in Texas, I was simply bowled over at the degree of dedication and sacrifice that this young man ultimately exhibited. May he rest in peace.

  • The young lion did not die in vain.

  • My heart goes out to the Carmeli family. My hope is that his death is not in vain and Israel will find victory in this battle for a safe and secure land. Gaza is just the start of a longer and bitter fight that Israel has a head of for them. I want to say we when ever I refer to the name of Israel but the truth is every Jew’s heart is in this endeavor and prevail we must.

  • My heart goes out to the Carmeli family. My hope is that that his death is not in vain and Israel will find victory in this battle for a safe and secure land. Gaza is just the start of a longer and bitter fight that Israel has a head of for them. I want to say we whenever I refer to the name of Israel but the truth is every Jew’s heart is in this endeavor and prevail we must.

  • We are mourning with you. May god be with you with all of us mourning for our lost soldiers. Rina

  • I salute this fine young man who gave his life so those of us in Israel can live. May his service give pride to this family.

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    May his soul rest in peace. My sincere condolences to his family.

    Am Yisrael Hai.

  • Deepest condolences to family and friends. He died a valiant fighter for good.

  • So sorry for your loss! He is our hero may his soul find peace!

  • Dr. Stanley Brody

    May H’Shem bless you and your husband for raising a protector of our people……..because of Sean and many more of our children our people will survive….againBless you and yours…..Sean is now with H’Shem……..AM YISROEL CHAI!

  • Larry Goldstein

    I am sorry that his life had to be sacrificed because of a war we did not start. My condolences to his family, friends, schul and community. He is one of many martyrs!

  • David Allen Flax

    Baruch Dayan HaEmet

  • Heartfelt condolences to the Carmeli family for the tragic loss of their heroic son.

  • Yankel Gorokhofskij

    God Bless Him. A great young man!

  • He died a hero , for all of us to live free . We are all his parents ,and we feel the pain.

  • The are no words how sorry our family is for your family. We thank you for your son’s sacrifice. He was a guardian of our nation and his memory is a blessing for us all, and he will always be in our hearts.

  • Bryna Weiss

    Anhd I still don’t hear anyone “begging Hamas to stop firing rockets”. Only newss of Israel being demanded to show restraint. Is the whole world mad?!!

    Our hearts go out to this grieving family. This is tragedy.

    Bryna and Joe WEiss

  • Andrea Brody

    May his memory be for a blessing. My husband and I extend
    our deepest sympathy for your wonderful son choosing to fight for Israel.

    • Henry & Gay Greenspan

      I along with my wife, extend to the entire Carmeli family our sincerest condolences.
      My wife and I remember Nissim as a sweet, intelligent boy.
      He grew to be a solid citizen of the State of Israel, his death is overwhelming to say the least,however,we all must take pride in the fact that he went to serve and protect his Country and his People.
      May the Carmeli family find comfort amongst the mourners of Zion. Dayan Ha’Emet.

    • Kevin Meyerthal

      A hero of the Jewish people.

      Sacrificing his life for Klal Yisrael – Al Kiddush Hashem.

      Wishing his family comfort among the mourners of Zion and jerusalem

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