These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

I am Israel

Posted on April 22, 2015 by Debra Weiner

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Last night I sat with hundreds of others for the Memorial Ceremony, organized by the young leaders of the Youth group EZRA. This year my 16 year old son, a group leader-Madrich- for 3rd grade boys-sat with them. Each year, following the siren, young members read the names of the youth group members from the neighborhood who died while serving in the army or in a terror attack. Each year we hope that new names won’t be added to the list.  Sadly, each year the list grows longer.

This year, in addition to reading the names of those we have lost, these young people shared the story of 2 soldiers who were killed in the War of Independence- Yisrael Mir and Yaacov Maman.  Both soldiers are buried at Har Herzl. Yaacov Maman was an oleh from Morocco, the 7th of 10 children. At the age of 18, Yaacov came on aliya and was drafted into the Harel unit of the Palmach. His unit was sent to fight near Kibbutz Maale Hachamisha (where my son was married a few months ago) and was severely wounded.  His parents were later notified that Yaacov had died but the burial site was unknown.

63 years passed and Yaacov’s brother needed to find out what happened to his brother. He knew that Yaacov had been transferred to Hadassah hospital.  However, in searching the records, Yaacov’s name did not appear. He did find the name, Yisrael Mir-who died at the hospital. The records stated that he had fought with the Harel Brigade at Maale Hachamisha.  Yet, the name, Yisrael Mir, did not appear on the list of soldiers in the Harel Brigade.  It was clear that Yisrael Mir and Yaacov Mamon were one and the same.  Over the years, since there was no information about Yisrael Mir, a story about him evolved.  Yisrael was a young man who had lost his family in the Shoah- came to Israel and died fighting for his country.  He left no one behind-which was why his tombstone was blank. In solving the mystery of Yisrael Mir’s true identity, 2 worlds also merged, a story of a survivor killed in the Holocaust and the story of a young man from Morocco who came on aliya-2 different worlds but one common cause-the State of Israel. Mir Yisrael in Yiddish means My Israel.

Last night the country stood together, Left and Right, Religious and Secular all with the same thought: I am Israel.