WEST HARTFORD – The Israeli soldier has a story. He has a name, and a family. He even has a facebook page.
On Monday evening about 40 people gathered at The Emanuel Synagogue of West Hartford to hear Master Sgt. Ilan and Staff Sft. Eran (last names withheld for safety) talk about their experiences serving in the Second Lebanon War.
Both paratroopers were injured in the 34-day military conflict. Both watched many of their colleagues die, and last week they pedaled throughout New York City as part of the Wounded Warrior Project, which allows injured soldiers (usually U.S. soldiers) to meet one another.
“It was like riding with the colleagues we’ve never met,” Eran said.
For Ilan, 39, and Eran, 24, the ride was co-sponsored by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which also sponsored the soldier’s visit to Emanuel Synagogue.
Dan Haskell, director of the Westchester chapter of Friends of IDF, said that more people need to meet Israeli soldiers and learn what’s going on the state of Israel.
“It’s an opportunity for people to put a face to that big faceless army,” he said. “It makes it personal.”
At the informal discussion Monday evening guests learned that Eran’s right leg was amputated after being seriously injured in battle.
“Two months before I was going to be discharged, the Second Lebanon War occurred,” he said.
After four operations, his new prosthetic leg is being created in the U.S and currently he’s studying engineering and hopes to return to the IDF after he graduates.
Ilan, who served as medic in IDF, was injured in the war after being hit by a missile. Nine of his friends died in the attack and 27 were injured.
He has three children.
“It’s important for me to come here and tell my story,” he said softly.
Haskell said FIDF is dedicated to supporting soldiers who defend the Jewish homeland and is always looking for opportunities to educate the public about those serving in the IDF.
On Nov. 20 the organization will host its 7th Annual Gala Dinner in New York. For information call (212) 244-3118, ext. 41.
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