The Israeli experience is rich and complex. The shadow of terrorism and war hovers above, casting a shadow but never managing to darken the Israeli experience. It does not control us but it does influence the way we grow. We doing things because of it and despite it.
It’s been almost two years since our last war, Operation Protective Edge.
HaYisraeli. The Israeli. What a family name! Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisraeli is his full name and I cannot think of one more rooted in Israel.
HaYisraeli is Hebrew for “the Israeli”. Yehuda is Judah, the tribe of Israel. Judea was named after the tribe that lived there: the tribe of Judah. The first capital of Israel was located in Judea and it is this area that gave the Jewish people their name: Jews are the people of Judea. Itzhak is Isaac, the son of Abraham and the father of the Jewish people. The name Yehuda Itzchak HaYisrael can be explained literally as: the Jew, father of Jews, the Israeli.
The people of Israel were introduced to Yehuda HaYisraeli as a result of Operation Protective Edge. I’m sure he would have preferred that we never hear of him.
At the time he was just a young man, like so many other Israeli men, married with one child and another on the way. Like so many other Israeli men, Yehuda HaYisraeli went to war, to protect his people. He didn’t have to go, he was in the midst of preparatory training for the Officers’ Course but he couldn’t stand the idea of his friends going to fight without him, of not being at their side.
How very Israeli. Here family is everything and friends are family too.
Before going to fight in Gaza Yehuda and his wife chose a name for their unborn baby: Erez Yechezkel, another very strong Israeli name.
Protecting loved ones and defending their future is the only reason Israelis go to war, the only thing worth the sacrifice – standing shoulder to shoulder with friends to protect the next generation.
Operation Protective Edge took a terrible toll on the Israeli people. HaYisraeli was the most severely wounded of all our soldiers. He was wounded by a large shell that penetrated his brain. I wrote about him and asked for your prayers for his healing here: May this be the hour of mercy.
Yehuda HaYisraeli was in a coma for over a year. His family didn’t give up and neither did the doctors. He underwent numerous brain surgeries and after almost two years of hospitalization the doctors declared he could be discharged.
Normally the Defense Ministry would see to it that a released IDF soldier would have his house appropriately renovated to accommodate his needs following the injury including ramps, wheelchair accessibility etc. The problem is that Yehuda HaYisraeli lives in Ofra which is in Samaria.
Names matter – people in the international community: politicians, BDS, anti-Israel activists etc are doing everything possible to delegitimize any Israeli connection to Judea and Samaria, including renaming the land “the West Bank” (or worse, Palestine) and initiating boycotts of Israeli products created there. This means that the Israeli government has difficulty with officially strengthening the Jewish presence in towns like Ofra.
Bureaucracy. Also a very Israeli experience. And a crippling political situation. All agree that Yehuda HaYisraeli deserves everything available in order to help him heal. All agree he should be taken care of but our reality makes it problematic to give him what is necessary through the normal channels.
Israelis don’t wait for the government to provide salvation. The government is slow and often in efficient whereas the power of the people is unstoppable. The idea that fear of international condemnation could be enough to prevent such a severely wounded soldier from being taken care of properly is unthinkable. Unacceptable. HaYisraeli went to protect all Israelis. Israel must take care of him now.
The My Israel organization set up a crowdfunding campaign to cover the construction costs, estimated at some NIS 600,000 ($155,000). Over a single weekend, more than 7,000 people donated, doubling the fundraising goal to hit NIS 1.3 million.
The campaign was named: “Bringing Yehuda home” and underscored with one powerful statement: “If the government won’t protect Yehdua, we will.”
Even Isaac Herzog the Zionist Union leader (left wing) donated some NIS 1,000 ($259) to HaYisraeli, underscoring the fact that this is not a partisan issue, it is simply a matter of doing what is right.
Do you want to help Yehuda HaYisraeli?
The family now has enough money to make the necessary renovations but that is just the beginning of the path they will walk towards Yehuda’s healing. It is not clear at this point if he will ever fully recover and be able to provide for his wife and two babies.
You can make a donation through the Headstart campaign for Yehuda: https://www.headstart.co.il/project.aspx?id=19329&lan=en-US