HUNDREDS packed the Moriah College auditorium last week for a particularly emotional Yom Yerushalayim commemoration, marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
For 19 years, the Jewish people had been denied access to the Old City by Jordanian soldiers, but following the the Six-Day War, it was once again open to all who wanted to pray there.
Guest speaker at the event was former IDF Captain Eitan Fund who served as a deputy platoon commander as part of the elite Sayeret Givati unit during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
“We entered Gaza along with the rest of the army,” Fund told his audience. “Our assignment was to locate and destroy the tunnels that the terrorists were using to kidnap and murder Israeli soliders and to transport weapons. When you lead your soldiers into battle, you suddenly realise what a tremendous responsibility you have.”
As they approached one tunnel, Fund’s commanding officer and his radio man were shot and killed by a group of terrorists. His friend and fellow officer, Hadar Goldin, was dragged into a tunnel before his eyes.
“Since my commanding officer had been killed, I took command of the platoon,” Fund said. “We had to get Hadar back at all costs. I approached the entrance of the tunnel and saw that it was booby-trapped. But after throwing a grenade down the tunnel, I was able to go down and chase the terrorists.”
Along with three of his soliders, Fund entered the pitch-black tunnel in search of Goldin. They lost communication with their commanders, so Fund sent a soldier back to report who returned with orders to abandon the search.
“On the way out, we were able to collect enough of Hadar’s belongings to provide evidence that he too had been killed,” Fund said tearfully. “This allowed his family to get closure and sit shivah … But his body has been held hostage by Hamas for more than three years.”
Fund went on to explain the uniqueness of the IDF: “We are responsible for one another, we are responsible for our people and we are responsible for our land. If I had not gone after Hadar, someone else would have …This is the spirit of our people and this is our strength.”
After an extended standing ovation for Fund, prayers were said for the State of Israel followed by a five-song Jerusalem medley. Members of the community then gathered under blue-and-white decorations for a BBQ, music and dancing.