When Shoshana Sharabi lost her job in early 2003 her 21-year-old son Ofer stood by her and said, “Mom, don’t worry, I’m going to sign up for permanent service and I’ll be able to help with all the bills.”
Ofer was an excellent soldier – a company Sergeant-Major and “father figure” to his young recruits. He’d been exempted from combat duty and given the option of studying in Yeshiva instead, but he fought for a place in the Golani Brigade on the front lines in the war on terror.
In addition to his skills on the battlefield, Ofer was known for counseling soldiers with financial difficulties. He was able to infuse the most dire of circumstances with his happiness. When his own father, mother, and four siblings fell into hard times, he was there for them as well.
Before dawn, on the morning of April 10, 2003, Palestinian terrorists snuck onto Ofer’s army base in the Jordan Valley and murdered him while he slept. The terrorists killed another soldier and wounded nine more in the attack.
Ofer was struck down in the prime of life. Yosef and Shoshana Sharabi were crushed by his death. They’d lost a pillar of emotional strength and could barely keep their heads above water financially.
That’s when OneFamily stepped in. In the past two years OneFamily has provided the Sharabis with several thousand dollars in financial and material assistance through our Adopt-A-Family program. We’ve stood by them to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Recently the family embarked on a mission to memorialize Ofer and all he stood for by dedicating a Torah scroll to their synagogue in his honor.
On January 2, 2006 a crowd, including Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, gathered at the Sharabi’s home in Givat Shmuel for the bitter-sweet celebration. First the scribe made an outline of the last few letters in the scroll, so that the family and others could fill them in, thereby taking part in the mitzvah.
Then the parade began – a crowd of singing and dancing friends, soldiers, rabbis, and OneFamily representatives carried the Torah under a mobile Chuppah from the Sharabi’s home to their synagogue. They celebrated as if re-enacting the giving of the Torah at Sinai. And all in Ofer’s honor.
Memorializing Ofer did not erase the Sharabi family’s pain, but seeing his life celebrated alongside the Torah – the foundation of the Jewish people – brought them great happiness. They were reminded once again that they are not the only ones who mourn his passing.