A Jew, A Father, A Soldier: Israel’s New Chief of Staff

A Jew, A Father, A Soldier: Israel’s New Chief of Staff

This month, Benny Gantz was appointed as the Israel Defense Forces’ 20th Chief of Staff.

During the special ceremony celebrating his appointment, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out that Gantz’s mother weighed 62 pounds when she was released from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Netanyahu continued: “I am convinced that [Gantz’s mother] never dreamed that 66 years after her liberation, her son would be 20th Chief of Staff of the State of Israel, the Jewish state. Perhaps she never dreamed of it, but this dream is being realized before our eyes today.”

The following is the text of the very moving speech that Gantz gave during that ceremony. Hearing Gantz’s speech on the radio last week (you can listen to the original Hebrew in the video below) made me cry so hard. Gantz’s love for his family, his country, his tradition, and his soldiers made me so incredibly proud to be a citizen of this country– the State of Israel.

I am Benny Gantz, son of Nachum and Malka z”l, survivors of the Shoah, founders of Moshav Kefar Achim and pioneers of the State of Israel. I am husband, partner, and friend to Ravital and father to Nadav, Noga, Nir, and Noam.

I am a son in the chain of generations of the Jewish people, a leader of thousands of Israeli soldiers, including those who have been lost, and from today I am the general responsible for all of Israel’s soldiers, including the injured soldiers, the fallen soldiers, the missing soldiers. And I am a friend and supporter of their families.

Ben Gurion demanded that each of us faithfully fulfill our obligations in accordance with our capacities as Jews, as citizens of this nation, and as partners in an ongoing creation that redeems and raises up our people. And the name of Israel will be lifted and sanctified.

To my whole family, and especially to you, Ravital, and to you, my children, Nadav, Noga, Nir, and Noam — I have no words to describe my love for you, and this is not the time or place to do so. And there are no words to properly express my appreciation for your sacrifice as individuals and as a family. I am grateful for your partnership and dedication, which will be necessary now more than ever before.

Honorable Prime Minister and Minister of Defense:

We read this week in the Torah portion Tetzaveh about the garments that Aharon HaCohen wore when he served in the Tabernacle: “You shall place two stones on the shoulder straps of the vest as remembrance stones for the Children of Israel….And Aharon served…”
Like the stones placed on the shoulders of Aharon HaCohen, I now assume the rank of lieutenant-general that you have bestowed on me. My role is not to govern. Rather, I have the great responsibility…to serve the Jewish people.

I will perform this mission to the best of my ability.

I am accompanied today by all of Israel’s fallen soldiers, by my fallen friends and by their families, by Gilad Shalit and by all of our missing soldiers, whom we hope to see home and free. We will be guided by the Jewish tradition, and by the spirit and values of the Israel Defense Forces. They are beacons of light to us. Thank you very much, and good luck to all of us!

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Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesperson

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2 comments

  1. Wow!! Made me cry just reading it in English! Will look at video later, so I can show my children

  2. What I loved is how he addressed his family first before the PM and president… A true mentsch!!

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