Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's been a Year .... Yarzeit of Haifa Heroes !!!!

Today the entire area has been replanted, Baruch Ha'Shem!

It  was dramatic,  disturbing & devasting  ... the Carmel Forest Fire of last year saw the death of 43 people.  Another 3 were critically injured & horribly maimed, and hundreds lost homes & possessions ~ 17,000 were evacuated at its height.  Although the blaze was small by international standards, it was considered a Calamity in Israel, where only 7 percent of the land is wooded.   The fire destroyed more than 50,000 dunam (12,300 acres) of land and damaged three communities ~ 74 buildings burned down in Kibbutz Beit Oren, Ein Hod, and the Yamon-Ord boarding school, and 173 buildings were partially burned.
Israel is a tiny country & it's society was touched. I wasn't there then, I didn't experience the sights or sounds or smells or terror of the encroaching flames.  But,  today Israel has recovered.  It was one year ago this week, and on their Yartzeit, we have a duty of Zachor & so today I remember .....  Haifa Police Chief Assistant Comander Ahuva TomerSixteen-year-old Elad Riven, who lost his life while volunteering in battle, the youngest victim of the flames and Prison Rabbi Uriel Malka, father of five from Karnei Shomron.

Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer.
Four days after suffering burns over 90 percent of her body when she rushed to save lives of prison wardens in a burning bus, Ahuva Tomer died at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Centre and was buried at the Haifa military cemetery. Tomer was caught by the flames after she insisted on following the ill-fated bus carrying police cadets into the fire so she could help in saving lives. After four days of fire raging through the North, light rain finally fell on Monday, as Tomer’s comrades, family and friends wept at her graveside. During the funeral, Police Commissioner David Cohen, who posthumously promoted Tomer to Lieutenant-Commander, said she had “waited to ensure the fires were out before leaving us.”

Dedication to Duty ... that is what Ahuva Tomer was all about.  Tomer was captured on camera minutes before the tragedy, driving together with police commander Itzik Melina towards the blaze, telling reporters that she was on her way to check firsthand what the situation was in the Carmel forest. Seconds before she sped off in her police car, Tomer expressed concern for mothers and children in nearby Kibbutz Beit Oren, who were being evacuated.

Tomer was born in 1957 in the former Soviet Union, and immigrated to Israel with her family when she was two years old. After completing her military service, she joined the police force in 1982, and during her first year on the force, she was recognized by her commanders as being “an exceptional officer,” according to Northern District police head Comander Shimon Koren.

She soon successfully completed an officers’ training course, and became a supervising officer in the Haifa Traffic Police. Tomer was then promoted to a series of positions, including the post of operations officer in the Haifa police station, and then operations officer for the Northern District. She next served as the head of the patrol and intelligence bureau of Haifa police, before being promoted to head of Nahariya police station, becoming the first female police station head.

Tomer became deputy head of the Haifa police station, and then, in October 2008, she became the first woman to command a major urban police station when she was appointed head of Haifa police. She often downplayed her accomplishments, and shortly after her history- making appointment in 2006, she told 'The Jerusalem Post' that she did not see the promotion as exceptional.

“I have frequently been the first woman to hold the position in almost all of the positions that I have held in the police,” she explained. “I don’t feel like I’m special. I do function in a predominantly male society, but I am an equal among equals and I try to be the best I can. But women need to understand that this is not just a question of equality of opportunity, but also equality of responsibility.” She lived as she died ~ a true Hero of Israel!

Sixteen Year Old Volunteer  Elad Riven
Elad was an only child who decided to volunteer and help battle the huge wildfire in the Carmel hills, when he got caught in the flames and lost his life near kibbutz Beit Oren. He was killed while trying to rescue the IPS cadets who were trapped on a bus which was taking them to evacuate prisoners in the Damon Prison. (It is nothing short of an abomination that their behaviour on hearing of his & all the Jewish deaths on that dreadful day was to clap & cheer ~ horrific not heroic!).

Elad had just celebrated his 16th birthday & Birthday Balloons still adorned his home onthis final leavetaking. He studied at the prestigious 'Re'ali' (Science-oriented) High School in Haifa. His classmates said that when Elad saw flames and smoke billowing during school, he quickly called his mother and asked her to bring his uniform and take him to join his unit at the site of the fire. He got dressed in the car, on the way to the fire.

"Elad was a hero who ran toward the fire instead of running away from it and saving his life," his mother said on IDF Radio. A close friend of his, Bar Ashkenazi said ~ "He was an amazing guy, a kid with a heart of gold. He always helped people. He heard about the fire and was on his way immediately."  He lived & died a Hero of Humanity & Ahavat Yisroel.  Let us Remember Elad Rivan today!

Prison Rabbi Uriel Malka

Prison Rabbi Uriel Malka, father of five from Karnei Shomron, was one of the 36 prison cadets to be consumed by the Carmel fire. Rabbi Malka, 32, is survived by his wife Ortal and five children, aged 9 and younger. He was an officer and rabbi in the IDF, served in the Paratroopers Commando Unit, taught in Canada and the U.S. for two years, and was studying to be an Israel Prison Service (IPS) rabbi. During the Second Lebanon War, he told of how he engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Hizbullah terrorists.

His last SMS message, sent to Rabbi Yehuda Vizner, Chief Rabbi of the IPS, from the ill-fated bus that overturned in the fire, stated simply, “I am on my way to rescue Jews. We’ll be in touch.”

At his Leviah Rabbi Levi Brachman rememberd "If there is one thing I learned from Rabbi Uriel Malka it is his unwavering and unfaltering dedication and self-sacrifice to the Jewish people. Whether it was as a warrior, as a teacher, as a rabbi or as a chaplain, Uriel’s unrelenting dedication and self-sacrifice to his people will remain his legacy and a powerful example to us all."

I think this remains true of All these Haifa Heroes.  May their Neshamot have an Aliyah !!!!

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