Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another Story from the 1973 Yom Kippur War

Yom Kippur ended and Sukkot came and went. Still the war continued. At that time, my neighbor, Ofra, was already after her military service and in her second year of medical school at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. She found herself inducted into the civilian guard unit of the army. Discounting her medical training her commanding officer kept her at Rambam, which had become a military hospital, but only as a sentinel.

Actually being a sentinel was an important responsibility. Israelis tend to see themselves as one large family and any injured soldier is a distant relative needing appreciation and tokens of love, be it food, clothing, or hand-drawn children’s pictures*.  Strangers didn’t think twice about coming to visit.  As caring as they were, those visitors could drain the soldiers physically and emotionally. Ofra’s job was to turn away unauthorized guests.

She did her job well but she wasn’t a robot. One day a young woman without the proper protocol claimed she needed to visit her brother-in-law, Yonah. Ofra didn’t really know Yonah, but she’d noticed him and liked the idea of being able to do him a favor. So she let the woman in. Not long afterwards she had a chance to do another favor. Bedridden with injuries to his legs, he asked her to move his bed. Being that it was on wheels it was easy for her to comply with his request.

As time went on Ofra’s assignment changed. She became the assistant to the woman changing bandages. Still, not using any of her medical training, she pushed the cart full of gauze, scissors, tape, and various other supplies from room to room.  After a while, though, she finally had the opportunity to use her two years of medical school training and was assigned to change bandages herself. Often she found herself in Yonah’s room, not only for medical reasons, but also to socialize. One day one of his roommates told him to “tell your girlfriend…”

Those simple words finally woke Yonah up. He began to look at Ofra in a whole new light. The rest, as the cliché’ goes, is history.

Both Ofra and Yonah lost a number of friends and acquaintances in the Yom Kippur War. They remember it as a time of tension and sadness and to this day Yonah isn’t able to walk normally. Yet, forty-four years, five children, and eleven grandchildren later they are quick to admit that despite all the tragedies something good did come out of the war.
courtesy of the Jerusalem Post

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