“He Needed to Go Back, The Distance was Killing Him”

The following letter from Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad of Salt Lake City, Utah, was posted on Lubavitchhq Instagram.

Salt Lake City is no stranger to young Israelis, usually just off their military service, that are “passing through”

Over the festive month of Tishrei, one such soul showed up in town. He had family friends that lived here, and was in between one sightseeing destination and another. He wanted to spend Yom Kippur and Sukkot with us.

Of all the terrified faces on the morning of October 7th, I remember Amichai’s anguished features distinctly. He needed to go back. The distance was killing him.

He sat in my Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret afternoon. Yes, he had always thought he might end up at war, even in the reserves, but never in Gaza.

His unit was trained for the mountainous terrains of Lebanon, not the urban warfare of Khan Younis.

He got his formal Tzav Shmoneh (the term used for emergency call-up notices for reservists during wartime and special military operations) in the middle of Hakafot.

We sat for hours afterward talking. He was off to war. Scared? Not a bit. Aware of the possible outcomes? You bet. More than anything, sad about what those outcomes might mean for his loved ones. But for him? “Our nation was built on the back of sacrifice. This is what we do. This is who we are.”

The next morning, by the Torah, we blessed him and his fellow soldiers.

Yesterday, the IDF released for publication the first fallen soldier of 2024. Sgt. First Class (res.) Amichai Yisrael Yehoshua Oster. May G-D avenge his blood.

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