Two Precious Souls

Memorial Day in Israel bares the raw, unspeakable pain felt by virtually all Israelis—and their brothers and sisters across the globe—in mourning for those who gave their lives for the Jewish State. To date, 23,646 people have been killed in defending the nation, and 3,134 have become victims of terror attacks. Behind these cold statistics are real men, women and children whose irreplaceable loss has left parents without their children, children without their parents, spouses without their life partners.

At the annual schoolwide Memorial Day assembly, Boys Town Jerusalem students pay special tribute to the school’s 70 graduates and teachers killed in Israel’s wars, conflicts and terror attacks. As the BTJ staff then gathers at the nearby Mount Herzl military cemetery to offer their respects and prayers, they recall together the memories of Boys Town “family” members who have fallen. The rabbis and teachers pause at the graves of Gadi (Class of 1886) and his wife Tzipi Shemesh, who tragically became the first soldier-civilian couple to be buried alongside one another in this military cemetery. Gadi and Tzipi’s murder in 2002 in a deadly suicide bombing attack left the nation in shock and horror:

 

Just moments before a terrorist detonated the bomb on a crowded Jerusalem main street, Gadi and Tzipi had learned from an ultrasound exam that Tzipi was expecting twins. 

Tzipi was killed instantly, and Gadi died of his wounds hours later. Their two little daughters at home were left orphans.

At Boys Town Jerusalem, Gad Shemesh had gained the skills in his Printing major and the love for Jewish studies that were to shape his life. Following his graduation, Gad enlisted in the IDF where he was assigned to the military printing press and excelled in his work. Soon after discharge, Gad returned to the IDF to become a career soldier and rose to hold top positions in the IDF Printing and Graphics Department. At the same time, he worked tirelessly to improve Jewish life on the large Tel Hashomer base where he served in the Logistics Corps. Gad singlehandedly spearheaded the construction of a much-needed synagogue on base, which grew quickly and vigorously.

At his death, Sergeant-Major Gad Shemesh was 34 years old. His wife Tzipi was 29. Only two among the 26,780 precious souls of Israel’s fallen, but whose memory remains alive, loved and honored by Boys Town Jerusalem.

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