Friday, December 06, 2019

KDS students honoring visiting Israeli soldiers. (Credit: Kinneret Day School)

On Friday, November 15, Kinneret Day School welcomed a delegation of six wounded IDF soldiers. The group’s nine-day visit to the New York metro area included visits with local Jewish institutions in advance of Honor Day. This annual governmental observance, created six years ago by the Knesset to acknowledge wounded IDF soldiers and victims of terror, is observed on the 15th of Kislev, which was the Hebrew date of November 29, 1947 (UN Partition Day).

KDS Head of School Rabbi Aaron Frank explained the history of Honor Day. “There are ceremonies in schools around Israel, with wounded IDF soldiers attending, sharing their stories and talking about their recovery and getting back into the stream of life.” 

Sixth-grade teacher Orah Frenkel explained, “The class discussed leadership. We defined ‘leader’ as a person who has a commanding authority and with many qualities including integrity, passion, empathy, courage, vision and inspiring others. Meeting two soldiers, Niv Keshet and Dror Zicherman, we asked the soldiers who they think is a leader. Both responded one who is in the front of the line, willing to sacrifice himself to insure others’ safety. They defined a leader as someone who sees the good in others and brings out those qualities in them so that they can work together as a team rather than as individuals.”

Sixth-grader Ezra explained that a hero “is someone who puts other people ahead of themselves, even if it means risking their life.” 

Eitan added, “A hero is one who encourages others to do good and puts people in the right direction.” 

Lior noted, “A hero sacrifices his own life to save others.” 

Micah defined a hero as “someone brave, who always fights through, no matter what.” 

Maia, stated, “A hero helps change things for the better and never gives up.” 

Aviv offered, “A hero is a strong person, without being well known.”

After hearing the heroes’ stories, the class observed that these soldiers were heroes just by serving in the IDF. The class was awed that even after their individual incidents, they were strong enough to recuperate, recovering both emotionally and physically. They were still willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. The class noted that these soldiers serve in the IDF to protect Israel, not for the publicity.

Frenkel relayed that the sixth graders understood the importance of serving in the IDF. The class observed that Israel is a small country; they need as much support as they can get because they are always under attack.” 

Frenkel added, “I believe my students were all struck with the idea that these two humble men, despite their horrible injuries, believed in defending Israel, and they wanted to go back and fight with their units. They keep contributing to the Jewish people even today by spreading the word of the holy work the Israeli soldiers do each day. The students definitely understand that Israel is a small country surrounded by many enemies and the importance to contribute to the effort of keeping the Jewish state safe.”

Delegation member Yoram Yeivin explained, “We send wounded IDF soldier delegations to the United States for many reasons, including showing solidarity and gratitude to Israeli wounded soldiers, creating partnerships with Jewish communities around the world, providing tools for Jewish youth to cope with difficulties in their day-by-day life from the perspective and life experience of the injured veterans, giving the Jewish community the true side of things to help them defend Israel and IDF in their communities and giving the wounded soldiers an exclusive opportunity to tell their stories of heroism.” Yeivin added, “We would like the youth to learn about their heroism, love of country and sense of connection with the Jewish world. Difficulties are just challenges that should not stop anyone from fulfilling his life and goals.”

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