Mickey Flaumenhaft Speaks to Communities and Schools in Honor of Yom HaZikaron
A Reservist Soldier in the IDF, Mickey Shared Personal Stories of Bravery and Hope from Gaza
May 15, 2024

Recently, our Director of Development, Mickey Flaumenhaft, had the profound privilege of sharing his experiences and stories with the community, presenting unique photos and videos from his time in Gaza as a reserve soldier. This presentation was not just about recounting events, but about conveying the deeply personal and transformative journey that he has been on.

Here are some highlights from Mickey’s presentations, in his own words:

The Bravery of October 7th - On October 7th, IDF soldiers exhibited incredible bravery, leaving everything behind to defend and protect the land and the people that they love. I spoke about the friends I lost, the miracles that saved lives, and the hope and opportunities that emerged even from the chaos of war. These soldiers, who were just ordinary people, performed acts of heroism and sacrifice that seemed both extraordinary and predictable. Their courage was a testament to their character and who they are.

The Uniqueness of the IDF - In schools, I discussed the unique nature of the Israeli Army, which enlists individuals from all segments of Israeli society and even welcomes volunteers from around the world who are committed to protecting the Jewish nation. I shared inspiring stories of lone soldiers, those who move to Israel without immediate family to serve in the military. One particularly moving story was about a lone soldier who was killed in action; despite his solitary status, 30,000 people attended his funeral, showing how, in Israel, there is no such thing as a truly “lone” soldier. All Jews are one family.

Honoring Fallen Friends - I shared stories of two friends who died on October 7th. They were everyday individuals, unremarkable in the best sense of the word. Yet, their final acts of bravery and selflessness were in perfect harmony with the people they were. These stories highlight a fundamental truth about heroism: it often resides in the hearts of the most ordinary people and emerges in moments of crisis.

The Transition from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut - One of the most poignant points of my presentation was discussing the unbearable transition from Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) to Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). This shift embodies a deep, irresolvable tension that is integral to Israel’s identity and story. Yom Hazikaron is a day of profound mourning and remembrance, immediately followed by Yom Haatzmaut, a day of national celebration. This juxtaposition reflects the resilience and complexity of Israeli society.

I got a text message from a friend who wanted to share his feedback. He said, “You were exactly who we needed to hear from last night. Yom Hazikaron has never been what it is in Israel for Jews in America. We don’t enlist here and most of us don’t know any Americans who got killed in the U.S. military. Being so far and not having a comparable experience takes away from what we should be feeling on Yom Hazikaron. Memorial Day here is sadly a barbecue day of fun. You helped put things in better perspective for us. So, thank you!”

Through these presentations, I tried bridge the gap between American and Israeli Jews and to offer a window into the realities of life and service in Israel. The stories of bravery, loss, and resilience are not just tales of the past but are actively happening right now! By sharing these personal experiences, I hope that I was able to create more understanding and an appreciation of the sacrifices made by our fallen heroes so that we could live in Israel.

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