Rank and File: Brothers in Arms and Closing a Circle

English-language ceremony in Jerusalem for Memorial Day, Telfed hands out over 400 scholarships and Holocaust survivor Livia Shacter turns 100

Livia Shacter celebrating her 100th birthday with some of her family members.
Livia Shacter celebrating her 100th birthday with some of her family members. Eugene Weisberg

BROTHERS IN ARMS Sisters of fallen lone soldiers Michael Levin and Shlomo Rindenow will share their personal stories at an Israel Memorial Day ceremony on Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill, at 7:15 P.M. on Sunday. It is the only English-language memorial ceremony open to the public in Israel, and will be available by live stream, according to the organizers. “Losing Michael is a constant reminder to me that our time here is limited, and to make the most of it,” Elisa said of her younger brother, a Philadelphia native killed in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. “You should pursue your dreams no matter what obstacles get in the way.” Yocheved Rindenow will share the story of her younger brother Shlomo, who was killed last summer in a military accident along the northern border, and his journey from Passaic, New Jersey, to Israel and service in the Israel Defense Forces. The speakers will be followed by musical performances by Michael’s friend YM (Yitzchok Meir) and Mike Perry, a lone soldier from England who served in the first Lebanon war.

CLOSING A CIRCLE Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation, handed out over 400 scholarships at its annual ceremony in Tel Aviv on Thursday. While most of the scholarships went to students with financial needs, about 130 received PRAS volunteering scholarships. “PRAS combines what Telfed does best – assisting students and helping new immigrants,” Merav Fisher, Telfed’s scholarships administrator, told Haaretz. “It pairs students with new olim families or elders who act as a big brother or sister, so it becomes a community service project.” She noted that over half of the PRAS recipients are new olim or children of South African olim, thus closing a circle when they help other immigrants in need. Fisher, a Juilliard-trained clarinetist from Canberra, performed at the ceremony. Telfed’s Dana Levy Tavor, Dorron Kline and Batya Shmukler all addressed the students. A poignant interlude was taken to commemorate the life of the late Susan Sharon, longtime head of the scholarship department, who passed away in 2016.

A VERY SPECIAL CENTENARIAN At one point in time, it looked likely that Livia Shacter wouldn’t live to see her 28th birthday. But this past week, Shacter, a native of Czechoslovakia who survived Auschwitz, celebrated her 100th birthday in Beit Shemesh. After her liberation from the death camp, Livia spent over 50 years in the United States, moving to Israel from Los Angeles in 2010. “Livia is a shining example of a woman who, despite witnessing the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust, did not give up on her positive spirit, her dream to live in Israel, and her desire to contribute so greatly to the Jewish nation and Holocaust education,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the immigrant support organization. Livia, whose story was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Long Way Home,” just celebrated the birth of her 56th great-grandchild.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.
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