For our last day of the trip we visited wounded soldiers at the Tel Hashomer hospital. Our group met with about a dozen soldiers (we were told not to take pictures so this blog will remain picture-less) all of whom had sustained serious injuries in Gaza and all of whom could be characterized as young, gracious, sweet and humble. One young man with whom we met was sitting with his mother and when I asked in what part of the army he served he humbly answered: “Golani”. His mother then chimed in: “a commander in Golani” and the young soldier smiled sheepishly.

Another soldier with whom we met, a tank commander, sustained an injury when his tank in Gaza was hit by a mortar. When I asked how long his rehab would take he responded in a very matter of fact manner: “two years”. He of course wasn’t happy about this but his joy and gratitude for simply being alive seemed to trump. Another soldier remarked that he and his comrades stay up late and crack jokes because they thankfully still have what to laugh about, ie-life.

The upbeat nature of the soldiers not only put our group at ease, but also demonstrated the pride each of them have to serve and the gratitude so many of them expressed to God for protecting them.

Larry, one of our participants, met with a civilian who was injured in a rocket attack. He was an older gentleman who had fought in the 1973 Yom Kipper War. At the end of the meeting Larry reached over to say goodbye and shake the injured man’s hand. However since his hand was completely covered with a bandage Larry switched to a fist bump. The man reciprocated with his fist and with a big smile told Larry: “Am Yisrael Chai”.

Am Yisrael Chai is right: the Jewish people live and will continue to live because of the bravery of our soldiers who carry the God’s blessing. May Hashem continue to bless them and may they all have a a refuah shleimah, a speedy recovery

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