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A powerful piece by real-life friend Pnina Weiss, whose brother Ari was killed by terrorists almost 10 years ago.
Growing up, I was always part of one club or another. Computer club, chess club, student council and other various organizations made me feel connected and “one of the gang.” More than the activities of the club itself, it was the friendships I made and the camaraderie of the group which kept me active. But then, almost 10 years ago, I entered a club I never, ever wanted to be a part of, or imagined I would ever join. It was the club of the Bereaved Brothers and Sisters.
From the moment we got the dreaded knock on the door, informing my family that my younger brother Ari, a sergeant in the Palchan brigade’s anti-terror unit, had been killed in battle, I suddenly found that I “belonged” to a whole new crowd, one from which I can never escape. Our members are spread far and wide, and they come from every sector of society: rich and poor, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, immigrant and Sabra. Generally, they go unnoticed, blending into the general populace. But other members of the club can spot them.
They are the ones standing off to the side, shedding a tear at a friend’s wedding, hoping no one will notice them as they think of their sibling who will never marry or bring children into the world. They are the ones choking up while lighting Shabbat candles, recalling the good times when the entire family sat around the Shabbat table. They are the ones who stop in their tracks and stare at the yahrtzeit candles while shopping at the supermarket.
Read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, here is more on the life and death of hero Ari Weiss z”l.
Ari Yehoshua Weiss moved to Israel with his family from Dallas, Texas in 1992 when he was 12 years old. He attended the Noam Yeshiva High School in Pardes Hanna, where he earned a positive reputation for being a nice boy who enjoyed studying.
The Weiss family quickly became a prominent one in their English speaking community in Ra’anana, taking on leadership roles and organizing many community programs.
Ari turned from an American immigrant into a true Israeli young man, when nine years after arriving in the country he enlisted in the IDF, and joined the Nahal Brigade. According to Ari’s father, “Ari believed that serving in the army in a combat unit was not a burden or a punishment, but a privilege.” Ari was a good son, calling his mother every week and before every holiday to check in with his family. At approximately 6:00 PM on September 30, 2002, Ari’s battalion was stationed in a house in Nablus when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on them. Ari was shot in the head, and died shortly thereafter. The Islamic Jihad terror organization claimed responsibility for that gun battle.
Ari was killed three weeks before his 22nd birthday. At his funeral, his father said, “You were a shy boy, unsure of yourself, but in the end you were everything that your name meant you to be: brave and courageous as the lion.” He was buried in the military cemetery in Ra’anana, survived by his parents, two brothers, three sisters, and his maternal grandparents, both of whom survived the Holocaust.