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In Honor and Memory of Oz

Birthright Israel is one of the most effective platforms to connect young adults with their Jewish identity, their people, and their community — we know that for sure by now. The encounter with Israeli peers during the trip, mostly soldiers, is always a major highlight for the participants and for the Israelis themselves. It is the proven power of personal connections. A visit to Har Herzl, the official Israeli military cemetery, is always powerful and places things in perspective. Put all the above ingredients together and they create a bond that lasts forever.


UJC MetroWest and the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County raise funds from generous donors and work hard in order to provide these young adults with a meaningful and strong visit. No surprise, therefore, that our most recent Birthright participants had such an emotional moment on Har Herzl. Here is the lead paragraph of the New Jersey Jewish News story about that experience:

Birthright participants come home as ‘family”

by Jill Garbi
Special to New Jersey Jewish News

Many of the participants in Monmouth County’s second Taglit-Birthright Israel trip last month reported that their moment of true connection with Israel took place at the gravesite of an Israeli soldier.

During half of their 10-day tour, the young visitors explored Israel with five Israeli soldiers and one Israeli college student. On the last day, with their Israeli friends, the Birthright group of 40 young adults (including 19 from Monmouth) gathered on Mount Herzl at the gravesite of a fallen soldier.

“We saw firsthand how passionate Israelis are about their country and its defense,” said Monmouth trip leader Lorin Mordecai of Monroe Township. “The soldiers played and translated a recording of a song that was written for their friend. It was definitely a moment we will never forget, because we all felt the same emotions, and we all felt like one big family…


Oz Tsemach
Oz Tsemach
The gravesite that our participants happened to visit was of First Sergeant Oz Tsemach (z’l). Oz was only 20 years old, a tank commander, a neighbor, and a friend. His tank was hit directly by a missile towards the end of the second Lebanon war. Oz (his name means “courage”) was killed in a courageous act of saving the lives of his friends. He grew up in our community and went with my kids to the same school and activities. The soldier who took the Birthright participants to this particular grave was my own son, Lieutenant Yotam Shacham. The Americans and Israelis all cried together as one family when Yotam played the song for Oz and translated it to English.

This is in commemoration of Oz Tsemach, who was killed on August 12, 2006, and who will remain 20 years old forever. May his legacy and memory continue to lead us in securing the Jewish people worldwide.


Oz - Moments in life


Flowers fall on you from above,

Round tears roll onto you.

The earth opened its mouth in your honor…

This is your sister above, calling and crying.


No, no, no! Bring him back!

No, no, no! It's not his time yet at all!


Rest your eyes, Oz, rest in peace.

It's dark outside, yet your mother is still here with you,

She can't bring herself to get up and leave you here alone,

She stays, stretched out and begging, with her face to the ground.


No, no, no! Bring him back!

No, no, no! It's not his time yet at all!


Your smile rises within me like the sunset,

Beautiful, beautiful, but disappearing in the darkness,

From the ends of the earth I call to you… How can you not hear?

From a black Shofar we will anoint you, Oz…

So that every star will know.

In the shelter of his wings you are hidden now and forever

Yet from the angel that touched you we beg:


No, no, no! Bring him back!

No, no, no! It's not his time yet at all!


Drishat Shalom,








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