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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 02, 2003

from Naomi Ragen, via e-mail

On April 15, only a few short weeks ago, Lt. Daniel Mandel, the son of Cheryl Mandel, manager of the Etzion Judaica Center, was killed in action during a military operation in Shechem. Here are Cheryl's own words:

A Farewell to Daniel, by Cheryl Mandel

Fifteen and a half years ago, we brought our family to Israel from Canada, because we believed and still do believe that this is the place where Jews should live. We brought our family here because it is our homeland.

We accepted that this is a young country where there were difficulties and we were willing to stand up to the challenges before us. When our eldest son Jonah went into the Army, we felt he was serving his country in the best way he could, and that since his work was dangerous, there might be a price. When our son Daniel went into the Army, we knew and we accepted that there might be a price. Unfortunately, like many other parents of soldiers, we have now paid the price for the security of our nation.

Our son Daniel was a lieutenant in an elite Army unit. He was dedicated to his soldiers, his staff and his Army service, all of which he truly loved. Daniel served in the Army for four years, and was even thinking of staying longer. Maybe I was naive. I was happy for Daniel when he was accepted into Palsar Nachal, an elite reconnaissance unit. I was happy for him when he was accepted to become an officer. I was so proud of him just a few weeks ago, when we attended the ceremony for the completion of his soldiers' training, and I was so proud to see how he had developed as a person, as a man, as a leader.

At the ceremony for Daniel's soldiers, the soldiers themselves and their parents spoke to us so beautifully about Daniel. They appreciated his caring and strong leadership, his commitment to his country.

Then on April 15, thirty six hours before the Passover Seder, the impossible to believe happened to our family. Daniel and his unit were sent to Shechem to capture wanted terrorists. Their mission was a success, but Daniel, the commander of that operation, was killed. In fact, yesterday, Daniel's unit was given a Commendation of Excellence for their handling of the entire mission, even after their commander fell.

The mission gave me a greater appreciation of our army, the Israel Defense Forces, and how they deal with the myriad of emergencies that face our nation. Soldiers know what they're doing. Soldiers know the rules of the game. Daniel had a bulletproof vest, and a bulletproof helmet. He had the right equipment, the right training for this mission. Yet, despite it all, asniper's bullet pierced a small unprotected area above his vest and under his arm. He died a hero.

We had always thought of Daniel as lucky. He won a trip to EuroDisney,and a set of books that he donated to his yeshiva. But in Shechem before Pesach, his luck had run out.

Daniel was a wonderful son, a wonderful brother. Wherever he went, the sun shone and there was laughter.

His positive attitude teaches us that when bad things happen, you can make sure something positive comes out of the tragedy. When bad things happen, people can go up or down. We were determined to go up and make a difference for others.

Our family was determined to be strong, to build ourselves, and help others.

Daniel had wonderful friends, wonderful rabbis, wonderful soldiers and a wonderful family. They have been very supportive to our family throughout this entire tragedy. Daniel had been such an important part of their lives, and they said they would always continue in his footsteps.

We all feel that Daniel will always be here with us. And we're going to be strong for him.

Over the past two years, I have been part of a company of women, called the Raise Your Spirits Summer Stock Company - first performing in JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and most recently in ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court. I was the show's comic relief.

Being in JOSEPH and then in ESTHER prepared me to face the challenges that I now face. Our Raise Your Spirits Company was set up so that the women of Gush Etzion could support one another, help one another, cry together and laugh together.

We have spent the past two years raising the spirits of others who have been hit by tragedy, and now we must do it for ourselves. We will.

Cheryl Mandel
Manager
Etzion Judaica Center
Gush Etzion, Israel
www.judaica.org.il
cheryl@gush-etzion.co.il judaica1@netvision.net.il