NEW YORK—Dozens of Jewish New Yorkers gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on July 20 to hold a memorial service for two slain Israeli soldiers who were recently buried.
The bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud “Udi” Goldwasser were returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on July 16. Israel returned several Hezbollah prisoners who were still alive. Funerals were held in Israel for Regev and Goldwasser the day after their return.
“Their message, their light, their soul, what they represented, what they lived for, and what they died for will remain in us and remain within all people of goodwill forever and ever,” lamented Rabbi Avi Weiss during the memorial service in front of the New York Israeli Consulate. Weiss is president of the AMCHA-Coalition for Jewish Concerns and leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx.
The pair’s abduction on July 12, 2006 sparked Israel’s launch of an extensive military operation against Hezbollah and Lebanon and ultimately the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon War, which lasted for 33 days. News of the soldiers’ deaths came only recently.
Weiss condemned the way Hezbollah treated Regev and Goldwasser.
“How do you treat a dead body? Do you treat it with honor or do you abuse it? How do you treat the relatives of someone who was has died?” said Rabbi Weiss. “Can you imagine—for two years, the enemy knew that Eldad and Udi were dead, and they didn’t share that faith with [Goldwasser’s widow] Karnit and their families.”
According to Weiss, Goldwasser’s widow had poignant parting words for her late husband during his memorial service in Israel.
“Now Udi, you and I move to the next journey, the journey of my life,” said Karnit. “You will be a full partner in it, silent but active, unseen but motivating, hidden from everyone’s eyes, but visible to me at all times. I will live without you, but you will live in me. The enemy tried to strike these men down, but they will live in us.”
News of the deaths of Goldwasser and Regev came as family and friends of several other Israeli soldiers still missing in action are still awaiting word of any news about their loved ones.
According to the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers, the list of Israeli soldiers missing in action in Lebanon includes Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, and Ron Arad. As of July 20, there was little to no information about their condition or whereabouts.