All day long, my kids were running in and out of the kitchen where I was cooking, to tell me how much money had been raised for Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisre’eli, a soldier who was critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The speed at which the shekels were flowing in was mind-blowing! My sons marveled at how they’d refresh the page and the amount would be up by another 100,000 shekels.
It was such a beautiful thing: a sign that Israelis, when push comes to shove, are there for each other, with a tangible unity and yes, love.
Here’s the story: Yehuda was taking an elite officer’s training course at the time the war broke out on the Gaza border. As such, he was exempt from fighting. But Yehuda wanted to help defend his country. He pleaded with his commanders to let him join his fellow soldiers on the front line.
Once he completed the officer’s course, Yehuda was allowed to join his comrades in southern Gaza. As his troops reached Rafiah, Yehuda told them to leave all their concerns about family and home behind, and instead to remember who they are and why they were there: to stand up for the Nation of Israel. Yehuda himself, had a pregnant wife and young daughter waiting at home for him.
Unfortunately, in the same firefight in which Hadar Goldin was abducted and killed by Hamas, Yehuda was critically injured when shrapnel pierced his skull and entered his brain. By a miracle he survived, though he was unconscious for a very long time, and could no longer speak.
In fact, his wife gave birth while he was still unconscious and fighting for his life in Soroka Hospital. The circumcision ceremony for Yehuda’s new son was held in the hospital with Yehuda’s bed placed close to the action, even though he was unresponsive.
It took eight operations until Yehuda woke up, but still, he could not speak. It was a full 18 months before he could lift his head and respond with one-word answers. The family was thrilled to see Yehuda rally.
There was just one problem: Yehuda couldn’t come home. His home in Ofra is not wheelchair accessible and the government wouldn’t cover the work needed, because of a technical building permit problem. Since the family couldn’t afford the 600,000 shekels it would cost to do the work on their own, that’s it: Yehuda was stuck in the hospital.
Now, Israelis usually don’t give much to crowdfund campaigns. But for some reason, they gave for this one. And gave and gave and gave.
When I last refreshed the page, just before the start of Shabbat, the amount raised was 1,152,375, and the tremendous outpouring of putting your money where your love is, shows no signs of abating.
Whoever thinks Israel has a problem with coming together as one people, has another think coming.
Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisre’eli is coming home. Because all of Israel made that happen for a fellow Jew, a patriot, a hero.
This is the best news story I’ve seen in a month of Sundays. Fills my heart to overflowing with joy and love for my people and my country.
Share this with everyone you know who thinks Israeli society is rent in pieces. Because it’s just not true at all. We’re as whole and hale as we need to be. And we’re filled with Ahavat Yisrael: love for our fellow Jews.
UPDATE: As of noon, Sunday, June 5, the campaign stands at 1,416,277, representing 236% of the target amount with 26 days to go! Yehuda has expressed his gratitude in a most poignant video clip: