This weekend the IDF released the names of 13 members of the elite Golani Brigade who fell while engaged in heavy fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. While supporters of Israel grieve for all of the IDF fallen and those that were downed in mortal combat against the Jihadis of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, two were dual Israeli-American citizens.
Max Steinberg, 24, of Woodlands Hills, California was killed when the APC that he and several others were riding in was hit by an IED. The second was Sean Carmeli 21, who was born of Israeli parents and raised in South Padre Island, Texas before returning to spend his high school years in Ra’anana Israeli. Carmeli was killed like Steinberg during the intense fighting in Shejaiya, what Israel PM Netanyahu called a “terrorist bastion” laden with rocket launching sites.
We learned yesterday of the injuries sustained by another dual Israeli American Golani Brigade member Jordan Low of Pikesville, Maryland who was injured in a fire while clearing buildings in Gaza. Like Steinberg and Carmeli, this young American –Israeli left for Israel after high school to enter military training with the IDF. He has been removed for treatment at a hospital in Tel Aviv and his family will be flying to Israel to visit him.
These young Israeli American Jews are indicative of the commitment of many young diaspora Jews who make aliyah to Israel to undergo training in elite and regular IDF combat units.
According to the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin, more than 5,700 Jewish men and women of different nationalities volunteer for service in the IDF, Israel’s armed forces, who have no biological relatives in the Jewish state. Two sons of my former rabbi at a synagogue in Fairfield, Connecticut volunteered to serve in elite combat units of the IDF. During Operation Cast lead in 2009, we wrote about the experience of Givati Brigade member Zachary Rowen –Taylor, another Californian , who, like fallen Golani Brigade member Steinberg, was a Sgt. Commander and sniper. Rowen-Taylor, we understand has been recalled to active duty as a reservist to serve, once again, in Gaza.
Steinberg’s family in California was interviewed by the Jewish Journal, “A Fallen Soldier, found his purpose in Israel”. His story is similar to that of these other soldiers who decide to make aliyah and become Israeli citizens. Here are some excerpts from the Jewish Journal article:
Just over two years ago, two brothers and a sister – Max, Jake and Paige Steinberg – returned to Los Angeles from a whirlwind tour of Israel.
The trip, which was sponsored by Taglit-Birthright, impacted all three. But none more than Max, who was 22 at the time, and the trio’s oldest. Then a student at Pierce College, Steinberg wasn’t finding what he wanted in school and was unsure of his path. But he was sure of at least one thing—Israel was where he was meant to be.
So, only three months after returning to California in July 2012, Steinberg went back to Israel in September, but this time to become a soldier in the Golani infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), one of the IDF’s most decorated units.
And early Sunday morning, as he and his unit made their way down a Gaza City street in the neighborhood of Shejaiya, a Hamas stronghold, their armored personnel carrier (APC) struck what was likely an improvised explosive device (IED) or a mine. The explosion killed seven soldiers, including Steinberg. A source in Israel’s Los Angeles consulate said that the attack occurred around 1:30 am, Israel time .
As to what motivated Max to undergo rigorous Golani training:
At just five feet and three inches, he took on nicknames like “Mighty Max” and “Little Dynamo.”
Prospering in one of the IDF’s most elite units, his mother said, helped him “earn respect for himself.”
Additionally, added his father, he viewed military service as an obligation were he to ever make aliyah to Israel.
“If he ever ultimately decided this was going to be his new home, not serving was just not an option for him,” Stuart said. And if he was going to serve, he wanted to be a Golani infantryman. “Anything less than that would be not as meaningful for him.”
In Sean Carmeli’s case, his family had returned to Israel from South Padre, Texas. The Algemeiner reported the his circumstances in an article, “Small South Texan Jewish Community Mourns Death of IDF Sergeant Sean Carmeli, Killed in Gaza”
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.
“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.
Sean was the youngest of three children, and with two older sisters, Gal and Or, was an only son.
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, “Bruise 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.
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.
As to what you can do to support of IDF soldiers serving in the ground incursion in Gaza, you might consider contacting, the American Friends of LIBI that “provides for the educational, religious, medical and recreational needs of Israeli soldiers.” Then there is the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. My colleague Lisa Benson, presently on a tour of South Carolina, called with information on the program of No More Jewish Victims of the One Israel Fund that is raising funds for support equipment for IDF soldiers and residents of Judea and Samaria. Also there is Pizza IDF that delivers pizza, ice cream and other food to front-line units.
1000 Pizzas were delivered to an IDF reserve unit on the Israel Gaza frontier with contributions from both Christians and Jews around the world. That was the result of an international campaign by a couple in the community of Eli in Judea and Samaria.
Most importantly, please offer misheberachs (prayers) for those brave IDF service personnel in Israel’s fight to defeat the Jihadis of Hamas backed by Iran, Qatar and Turkey. They are the defenders of the Jewish nation of Israel, America’s only reliable ally facing extremist Islam threatening the West.
Watch this You Tube Video with a Misheberach for Tzahal:
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.