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Reflections on the five Israeli soldiers who perished this past Shabbos

Photographer Avital Rotbart shares her reflections on the deaths of five Israeli soldiers.
Radio Chavura

My sister, Avital, will be a senior this year at The Denver Academy of Torah High School. She is an active member of the Denver Jewish community, perhaps best known for the dozens of local events that she has photographed for Radio Chavura and the work she has done as a summer camp counselor.

But Avital is also a talented writer. Last night, after the Sabbath ended, she wrote her thoughts on the sad news of the day coming out of Israel and its self-defense war in Gaza. My sister had no intention of publishing her reflections, but I think they will touch you, as they did our whole family.

Only Hours Before Their Deaths, Like Me, They Were Posting to Facebook

By Avital Rotbart

It seems wrong.

It seems wrong that I am sitting here so comfortably in my home, while my brothers and sisters in Israel are at war.

Israel is under attack. Students my age, almost 18, are running to bomb shelters on a daily basis. They lay in bed at night hearing the thundering of the rockets fired into the starlight, while I lay in bed hearing nothing but the sound of my own breathing.

Eighteen year olds in Israel are shooting down hostile rockets, searching tunnels, raiding terrorist camps. That is the reality of their lives.

In Israel, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters are fighting with courage and every ounce of strength to protect their homes, their lands, their nation, while in America we sit on the couch, watch television, check Facebook, and let the hours pass.

This weekend, after Shabbos, I checked Facebook to see what my friends are up to.

I saw camp pictures, cute dresses, funny videos, etc. But then I saw a photograph, just one, that left me completely shaken. The picture was of a candle burning amidst the darkness, illuminating the names of the five Israeli soldiers who were killed over Shabbos. Four of the boys were under 21; the other was only 45 years old.

I decided to search Facebook to see if the four boys had accounts; they indeed had accounts and photos to accompany them. As recently as this week, I saw that they were still posting on Facebook.

They awoke this Shabbos having no clue they were never going to great another sunrise; having no clue they had seen their families for the final time; having no clue that they were going to die.

Life was stolen from these young Israelis as a result of Hamas terrorism. Their deaths ignite an anger within my soul, as I think of Hamas and the heinous crimes they are committing against my brothers and sisters.

The only comfort that I can take amidst all of this fury is that Hashem is G-d, He is the one and only. He knows better then anyone else what these evil terrorists do.

Hashem will honor our boys for their righteous sacrifices, even as he imposes justice on the terrorists when they stand before Him awaiting their sentences in the world to come.

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