On Monday, November 24, I, along with a “House” full of others, had the honour of hearing from Aviva and Noy Yifrah, the mother and sister of hero and fallen soldier Staff Sgt. Tal Yifrah z”l, 21, of Rishon Lezion. Tal was in the Golani Brigade, and was killed in Operation Protective Edge on July 21 in a clash in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiyeh. He was set to complete his military service in three months.
As Noy and Aviva shared stories, pictures, and videos of their beloved Tal, there was a penetrating feeling that we were all reminiscing about our son, our brother, or our friend that we lost. The unique bond that exists between the Jewish people was palpable that night. As they cried thinking about their memories of Tal- his sense of humour, his love for his girlfriend, his devotion to his family, we all cried inside (and some, like me, outside too). The event was in partnership with the One Family Fund, and it truly felt like everyone in the room was part of one family.
They told us about how Tal and his comrades were part of the discovery of Hamas plans to execute a massacre this past Rosh Hashana. Tal, and the other 66 soldiers who lost their lives this summer, paid the highest price to secure Israel. Because of their sacrifice, Jews in Israel and abroad are safer.
As the night drew to a close, Aviva and Noy expressed that speaking about Tal was part of their healing process, and in fact this evening, being as intimate and interactive as it was, was one of the most valuable of all their speaking engagements. Amazing how they were thanking us for the opportunity to spend time together, and it is us who are profoundly grateful to them beyond words. They also urged everyone in the audience to do everything they can for Israel, just like Tal did. The ability for us, a group of Canadian Jews, to have been given the opportunity to help Aviva and Noy in some way was unique and special. In a way, each person that night was doing something not just for Aviva and Noy, but also for Israel and our “one family”.
I hope we have more events like this in the future, where one night can be so meaningful and inspire such positive action in the future. As Young Jewish professionals, we need to take responsibility for standing up for Israel and the Jewish people seriously, in every aspect of our lives. At work, with our friends, on our social media channels and so on. Events like our night with Aviva and Noy show that any effort we make can have even greater results – the fact that Aviva and Noy said that we helped them feel just a little bit better, and proud that night, we can all rest assured that our time was well spent.
As a result of the evening, myself and a few others have committed to create a group of young professionals who will work on creating more opportunities and outlets for our demographic to speak up, stay informed, and get involved. Once you leave university, our age cohort gets so busy with their lives and careers that they often lose touch with the role they can and should play for our people. There needs to be a greater emphasis than ever on engaging our peers in these more important discussions and during these important days ahead for Israel. It is amazing that The House not only encourages, but also facilitates our demographic to get involved and take leadership roles. After an evening with Aviva and Noy (which ended up lasting for over two and a half hours) everyone present realized that we too have to serve in some way our Jewish people and Jewish homeland!