These Soldiers Are Alive By a Miracle

“At least ten guys in our squad have injuries to their ears or knuckles from missiles or shrapnel that narrowly missed hitting where it would have been fatal,” Mendy said. Kfir eagerly pulled out his phone. “Look, I starred in a Hezbollah movie! They thought they killed me.”

By Mrs. Bruria Efune

It no longer feels like it’s still October 7th.

For the first hundred days of the war, time stood still. Every hour was replaced with a heart-wrenching shock and a disbelief that something so nightmarish could actually happen. The next hundred days forced us to accept a new reality, in which devastating tragedies became an everyday knock on the door—one too frequent to answer each time; too heavy to feel every day. But still, impossible to ignore.

On a Friday morning, in the middle of the Pesach (Passover) holiday, we drove up to a makeshift army base bordering Southern Gaza. My kids eagerly jumped out of the car and into the sandy desert scape, where a group of soldiers welcomed them with big smiles and a strong high five, before inviting us to chat around a tiny table in their coffee house.

The house was about the size of a walk-in closet, but for these guys who have been spending most of the last 200 days in tents, it was luxury. It had air conditioning, a fridge, and a hot water urn.

Their eyes twinkled as we conversed, and their tones shifted between laughter, frustration, and earnesty while they shared the wonder that they were even still alive.

The group of four is part of a reservist squad that had been in the north until now. Mendy, the squad commander, is a full-time student who had to cram all his studies into a one-month break from duty. Kfir is a business owner whose partner is struggling to keep things operational while he’s gone. Chaim is an accountant who doesn’t know if his clients will come back to him when the war is over, and Vehoshema is a yeshiva teacher who still uses his Talmudic thumb gestures when discussing military dilemmas. Three of the four have wives and small kids waiting for them at home.

“I think my wife sleeps better at night now that I’m not in the north anymore,” Chaim confessed.

I asked them what October 7th was like for their unit. I already heard from many heroic soldiers who had been on the frontlines on the Gaza border that day, but it was my first time meeting soldiers who had been in the north.

“Well,” Mendy started answering before they all began to smirk. “It was Simchat Torah right? Our company commander is a Chabadnik. You know what Chabadniks are like on Simchat Torah?”

We all laughed a little, before they quickly explained that actually their company commander is really great, and somehow managed to quickly sort out the fog of the early moments of war, and get them together at a border community. There was a big fear that Hezbollah would do the same as Hamas, and have a much easier time breaking through the Lebanon border into Israel, where they could cause a mirror devastation, or worse.

IDF soldiers quickly lined the entire border’s length, while civilians were evacuated. On the first night, most soldiers slept in their cars, because they didn’t have tents yet. In the morning, the fire began.

“Our company commander is smart,” Kfir explained. “First thing he did was make us dig trenches in all our positions along the border. He didn’t manage to get us permission to use a bulldozer, so we had to do it all by hand, with regular shovels.”

He showed us his hands; they were covered in blisters, his skin peeling. Then he pulled out his phone and showed us photos of the trenches. It looked like documentation of World War II—but in full color. Soldiers stood in the ground, eyes peering over, one looked through binoculars and the others had their guns pointed and ready. Right in front of them was a wire fence, and on the other side a hill where armed Hezbollah terrorists stood behind bushes, short walls, and sometimes out in the open.

There are no sirens on the border. Anti-tank missiles and mortar fire take less than three seconds to hit, and the Hezbollah terrorists fire every time they see something move. Soldiers and any civilians who stayed in the area have to make sure they’re never seen from across the hill. Their ears are trained to hear the sudden whistle sound of a flying projectile, and instinctively drop down the second it begins.

“There’s no doubt G-d was keeping us alive back there,” Vehoshema smiled. “There were so many times when one of us randomly felt the need to move an inch, just seconds before a missile flew through the place they had been standing.”

“At least ten guys in our squad have minor injuries to their ears or knuckles,” Mendy added in. “All from missiles or shrapnel that narrowly missed hitting where it would have been fatal.”

Kfir eagerly pulled out his phone again. “Look, I starred in a Hezbollah movie! They thought they killed me.”

The short clip had dramatic background music as it focused in on a group of IDF soldiers in a forest getting geared up and into position. The Hezbollah terrorists stood just over the fence on a hilltop, a mere few hundred meters away. With a cry to Allah, the terrorist fired an anti-tank missile straight towards the soldiers, and within two seconds a hit was made, followed by a large explosion.

I looked at Kfir in amazement. “That’s you? But you’re alive..?”

“Yeah! We all ducked just in time,” he grinned big. “One guy got a scratch on his head, the other guy’s kipa flew off. Our ears hurt real bad from the sound. But that’s it!”

The reservists spent five months on the northern border, under constant fire, before getting a short break to go home. Most of those five months were through the mountain winter, where it wasn’t so much snow, but plenty of rain and biting cold winds. They told us about nights where it was too cold to sleep, and their leather boots only held in the chill and froze their feet more. They’d leave their tents and walk around outside just to warm up. Campfires were out of the question—those would instantly give away their position and subject them to Hezbollah fire.

In between guard duty, they trained for the possibility of a ground operation inside Lebanon—something which they all agreed was necessary, but would be a very difficult battle. Hezbollah is far better armed than Hamas, with sophisticated modern weapons and a hilltop terrain.

Listening to their stories I began to feel a little guilty. “Did you ever feel neglected?” I asked. “The soldiers in the south are always brought treats and barbecues, and get gear sponsored… did you feel left out?”

They smiled sheepishly. Vehoshema pulled out his helmet, and placed it on the table. It looked horrendous. I tried to find the stamp inside to see what year it was from—but it didn’t even exist.

“Who knows,” Mendy piqued in. “Maybe our grandpas wore it during the Six Day War. I’m not sure it even provides much protection at all.”

Vehoshema is a machine gunner, but his helmet doesn’t have a night vision clip, so he has to hold the gun in one hand, and his light in the other.

“Listen,” Asher interjected. “We’re not complaining. Of course we’re happy to be here in the south now, and yeah it was pretty awful in the north, but when we’re done our job down here, we’ll go back up and do what we need to there.”

They were very relaxed, even eager, about the fact that they were set to enter Gaza in less than a week. Defending Israel against Hamas would be good practice for facing Hezbollah, they reassured us.

The question was burning inside of me, but it finally came out.

“How, after six months away from your families, and all the freezing cold muddy nights in trenches, face to face with some of the world’s most well-armed terrorists, knowing that you have at least several more months of this, how do you still have the motivation to keep on going?”

It was silent for a moment. The four soldiers looked at each other. The traditional accountant, the Tel Aviv business owner, the yeshiva teacher, and the university student with the trendy haircut.

“Some nights, after another projectile whizzed by our heads,” Kfir started. “We’d make coffee or smoke cigarettes and sit around laughing at how we could’ve just died.“

Chaim seemingly knew exactly where Kfir was going with this. “We’re like brothers. Through thick and thin, we have each other. We developed an incredible bond, and really hold each other up. We even manage to have good times together.”

They were all nodding. Kfir continued, “and there’s the ideology. We have no other land. Most soldiers will tell you this is enough to keep them going until the very end. It’s the land of our fathers, where we are finally safe, and we need to keep it that way.”

More agreement all around. Then Vehoshema continued. “And a third thing,” he pointed up towards the sky, his smile taking over his whole face. Even before he finished explaining, everyone was smiling in agreement. “He is watching over us. G-d saved us so many times. It’s a miracle we’re still alive, and with miracles we will continue.”

We’re two hundred and four days into the war. Our hearts are worn from the pain, our tears more hesitant to break through. We pull along daily life while hoping for a spark of good news; for the hostages to come home, for wounds to heal.

But through the hardest times, it all became crystal clear: We have each other, we have our homeland, and we have our G-d watching over us. Those will keep us going until we bring the good days, where the whole world will know nothing but G-dly peace and harmony.


Mendy, Chaim, Kfir, and Vehoshema’s squad will be entering Gaza any day now, together with their company. But they’re one of the most badly equipped units I’ve met to date. 17 soldiers in their squad urgently need new helmets, and 22 soldiers are wearing boots that are broken. They don’t have any surveillance drone, and lack other basic equipment.

With $15,000 we can get them the helmets, boots, and drone. With more than that, we can ensure they’re better prepared to face both Hamas and Hezbollah.

Since this is urgent, I want to buy and deliver at least the helmets on Tuesday morning. If we can show a campaign with a good start, our supplier will give the helmets on credit.

Can we do it?

We’ve conspired with Mendy to surprise his unit and catch it all on video if we’re successful. Please help us make it happen!

Donate here:

VIDEO: The Hezbollah video Kfir “starred” in. He’s circled walking in the background.

VIDEO: Here’s squad commander Mendy giving my kids the ride of a lifetime 🙂

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  1. I’m first reading this on May 1 and the article is dated April 28. You write, “I want to buy and deliver at least the helmets on Tuesday morning.” Was that yesterday?
    Do you still need money?

    1. Reading this article, it seems that there is a need for hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect the soldiers with essentials. $20,000 is a drop in the bucket and only helps 1 small unit of a few soldiers

  2. You can trust Bruria Efune. I follow her daily briefing she makes sure any funds allocated go straight to the soldiers. After she makes sure they have the best uniforms she buys more drones. Which the soldiers use to scout ahead of them in battle. Or cameras to put in the tanks so they have 360 vision. She is in contact with so many divisions ensuring they have what they need. Kol hakovod Bruria!

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