A Heartfelt Account from Udi’s (z”l) funeral

Through a list-serve I receive I got the following note from an attendeed of Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser’s (z”l) funeral.  I found the words so moving that I wanted to share it with you even though the post is a bit dated. (By the way, the person from whom I shared it said “please share.”)

From: Lisa Preiss
Sent: Friday, July 18th, 8:35 am
Subject:  Goldwasser funeral

Yesterday I drove up the western coast of Israel to  Nahariyah, just below the Lebanese border, in order to attend the somber funeral  of Ehud Goldwasser. Just 24 hours earlier his fate was revealed to his family,  all Israel and the world in front of television cameras: in a travesty of a  spectacle a Hezbollah spokesman, acting like an amateur magician, pointed the  cameras to a darkened car declaring in Arabic “and now we will learn the fate of  the two soldiers!” His people fumbled about as they removed two black coffins  from the car, proving to all of us at that very moment that Ehud and Eldad were not alive. A cry went out in homes around the country as we thought of the Goldwassers and Regevs getting this final heartbreaking news in such an inhumane  manner.

The sight of the parents, Micki and Shlomo Goldwasser,  their two boys and the majestic widow, Karnit, following Ehud’s coffin, arm in  arm, as they walked towards the cemetery on the beach will be etched in my mind  forever. The irony of the burial spot was lost on no one: 29 years ago on this  same beach, Samir Kuntar killed 4 Israelis, including 4 year-old Einat Haran  after she witnessed her father being shot. Her mother, Smadar, was with us at  Ehud’s funeral. She has been a stalwart supporter of the families of the  kidnapped soldiers, determined that her pain should not keep them from being  reunited with their loved ones. Samir Kuntar was one of the five live prisoners  exchanged for Ehud and Eldad.

Thousands stood together overlooking the  sea as Ehud was buried to words of love and longing. I have met the Goldwassers on numerous occasions over the past two years, accompanying Angelinos on our Federation’s missions who wanted to meet and support the families in their  struggle. They are strong and upstanding people. The LA Federation, along with  other federations, financially supported the families of the kidnapped soldiers  over the past two years so that they could travel wherever they needed and bring  attention to their plight. We produced dog-tags of the soldiers as part of the  LA-wide campaign we led. When a group of our Geller Fellows presented Karnit  Goldwasser with a sample of the tags, she replied without missing a beat, “I  will give these to Ehud when I see him.”

In another such meeting I  learned from Micki that when Ehud was born she stopped working in order to take  him daily to this same beach until he began nursery school at the age of  three.  Despite the stifling heat, the crowd remained quiet and respectful  throughout the funeral.

In Beirut an entirely different event was  unfolding: now a pawn of the Hezbollah and stuffed into one of their uniforms,  Samir Kuntar broke through cardboard jail bars in front of tens of thousands of  cheering Lebanese. It seemed that the remains of 199 Lebanese returned that  morning were given little thought or limelight.

Much was made of the  difference in the character of the events occurring in Israel and Lebanon  yesterday. I remember what Shlomo Goldwasser said on his way to be reunited with  his son’s remains just the day before: that he felt sad for the Lebanese who  were celebrating the return of a child-murderer.

Yesterday I was proud to  belong to the nation that was mourning its dead, its sons returned to its  borders the nation which lives by the words of Psalm 34: “Mi ha’ish  hahefetz chaim, Bakesh shalom v’rodfehu”

I was proud to belong to the  nation that holds life most precious, along with the quest for peace.

Lisa Preiss-Fried
Assistant Director
LA Jewish Federation Israel Office Jerusalem

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