“The Torch of Bravery” – “Lapid HaGvura”
A day of study and sport, in memory of 2nd Lieutenant Yuval Heiman, z”l, who died defending Israel during Operation Protective Edge. “We must transform our grief into something constructive.”
On Thursday, December 18th, students from OTS Derech Avot High School in Efrat were joined by soldiers from the Paratroopers’ elite reconnaissance battalion for a day of study and sport under the banner “The Torch of Bravery.” The event was the first of what will be an annual tradition, honoring the memory of 2nd Lieutenant Yuval Heiman, z”l, a Derech Avot alumnus who fell in battle on July 21st while defending Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
“Yuval exemplified the school’s inherent values of striving for excellence, giving of oneself for society and exhibiting a sense of responsibility toward the unity and safety of the Jewish people,” says Avichai Foa, the school’s Social Coordinator and organizer of the event. “His room was filled with trophies, certificates and medals for sports, academics and volunteerism. He was a lighthouse, a shining torch of bravery and leadership who very simply lit the way for all of us.”
Following remarks by Yuval’s father, the Mayor of Efrat and the school’s principal, attendees broke up into groups to study a variety of sources, including Yuval’s own thoughts and writings on subjects ranging from Heritage to Excellence. Afterward, they were challenged at a number of sports stations, followed by a friendly soccer game between students and soldiers and a pizza dinner.
“The bow and arrow go together in the same way as the book and the sword,” said Moshe Heiman, Yuval’s father. “A bow is compliant, while an arrow is rigid, and we learn from the pair that the way in which you reach your goal is no less important than the goal itself. Yuval was like the bow and arrow, a synthesis of book and sword. He excelled in his studies as well as in sports. And he understood that in order to achieve his aims he must be simultaneously flexible and precise,” he remarked. “May his memory be blessed, and may the coming generations learn this important principle by the light of his memory.”
Oded Revivi, the Mayor of Efrat, explained that the name of the Jewish people derives from Judah, son of Jacob. “From amongst all the tribes, Judah was the one who took the initiative and took responsibility. He initiated the sale of Joseph in order to prevent his murder. He took responsibility over the incident with Tamar and he took responsibility for Benjamin when Jacob refused to let him go to Egypt. The meaning of being Jewish is thus synonymous with taking responsibility, of leading,” he said. “Yuval was like this. When the Gaza conflict began, Yuval’s battalion commander plucked him from Officers Training School in order to serve as his radioman on the front lines. This testifies to the fact that he knew he could rely on Yuval and his sense of responsibility.”
Yitzchak Greenwald, principal of Derech Avot, recalled the phone call he received after Yuval fell. “I saw how the teachers reacted, how they remembered Yuval and spoke of him with such an aching yearning for his return. I felt that his death really hurt the faculty. We decided to build a special room to memorialize him and to establish the ‘Torch of Bravery’ day of study and sport, to honor his memory every year.
“We actually got the idea from Yuval’s mother, Zohara,” continued Greenwald. “At the memorial service she said that we must transform the mourning into a memorial; we must do something constructive and not sink into sadness. At that instant, we took upon ourselves the task of immortalizing Yuval, of celebrating his amazing qualities and turning them into a shining torch which will guide us all.”
Photos: Elyashiv Livyatan