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April 28, 2020 12:24 pm
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On Israel’s Memorial Day, Children of Fallen IDF Soldiers Recall Fathers They Never Knew

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israelis wear face masks and stand still while a siren sounds marking Memorial Day, in Tel Aviv, April 28, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Corinna Kern.

As Israel marked Memorial Day on Tuesday, the Reshet Bet radio network chose to tell the stories of those whose fathers fell in battle before they were even born, and how they have chosen to remember the parents they never knew.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan published some of the testimonies of these survivors, which were originally broadcast on the show Ha’boker Ha’ze (“This Morning”).

Karin Valeria Yaskov, who was born eight months after her father Avner was killed in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, recalled, “Mom told me that in their last phone call, the day before he was killed, she told him she was pregnant and he would have another daughter.”

“I was so happy to know that he knew I was there,” she said.

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Avishai Lavie, whose father Isaiah died in the First Lebanon War in 1982, two months before he was born, remembered piecing together his father’s identity from things like “a few seconds of a video from a wedding [mom and dad] attended just before he fell, handwritten postcards, people introducing themselves to the child I was: ‘Do you know me? I was your dad’s friend.’”

Tohar Meshulami, whose father Ami died in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, remains in awe of the father he never knew, saying, “My dad was a man who loved helping others and always tried to give of himself and do his best in every situation he was in. In the army, they say, he was the best soldier, always trying to raise everyone’s morale, care for friends who needed help, and be the first to accomplish any task. I hear a lot of stories about him and how special he was.”

“It’s a hard feeling … to know I missed such a special person,” he added.

Michael Sonino’s father was killed in 1993 and he was born six months later. “Growing up without a father — who fell — is an experience that is hard to pin down in a few words and I’m sure different orphans experience it differently,” he said. “In every act in life, you get a sense of ‘what would dad think about this?’”

Avichai Paz Greenwald’s father Avi was also killed in the First Lebanon War, and when he was born six months later he was given his father’s name.

“I was born into these stories” of his father, he said. After he was married at age 21, Greenwald began to think about the father who had died at 25, only a few years older than he was.

“So, I wrote my song ‘Shanim’ (‘Years’) that talks about the longings between a father and a son,” he stated. “In recent years, I return to this song, and my thoughts, and seek approval and strength from a father I never met.”

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