20,000 Attend Funeral to Salute Lone IDF Soldier from Texas
I spent last week at the isolated Canadian cottage of my husband’s family. No internet. No Email. Almost no phone access. Just days spent watching the cotton-ball clouds drifting by, the sparkling of the sun on the lake’s surface, the serene loon as it floated along the shore.
And yesterday I came home to Israel– to falling missiles, military funerals, a heavy feeling in the air of “What will be?”
For those of you who live outside of Israel and have been following the war in the media, probably none of what I just told you about what is taking place in Israel right now is new to you.
What you probably aren’t able to sense from abroad is the feeling of unity here right now which is rare and intense and indescribably sweet.
This unity was expressed yesterday at the funeral of lone IDF soldier Sean Carmeli HY”D who made aliya from Texas and was tragically killed earlier this week by Hamas militants in Gaza. Sean’s distant relatives were concerned that as a lone soldier with few contacts in Israel, there would be a very low turnout at the funeral. The family sent out a plea– which was then forwarded widely on WhatsApp and Facebook that people should attend the funeral. And attend they did.
20,000 people from across Israel traveled to distant Haifa to attend yesterday’s funeral to salute this lone soldier. Sean Carmel had been offered a medical discharge for a sprained ankle by an IDF doctor three days before he was killed, but he refused the discharge; he was determined to fight alongside his friends for his adopted country.
Many of the people attending the funeral carried Israel flags. One of them explained, “Sean Carmeli is a source of national pride… He’s a person who made a decision that completely went against what’s accepted in American society. He was motivated by his love of Israel to enlist in one of the most dangerous units there is, even though he easily could have chosen a more comfortable life. And I’ve come to salute him.”
Nava Lapid, of Beit Gamliel explained why she traveled 5 hours to attend the funeral, “I came from the South, we live 40 kilometers from the Gaza border. We received a WhatsApp message that a lone soldier had been killed, and we decided to come and participate in his funeral and to say ‘Thank You’ to him for coming to join us here and for protecting us. He doesn’t have so much family here, so now we will be his family.”