A special tribute to Michael Levin, a Jewish-American who moved to Israel to join the Israel Defense Forces was held Tuesday evening in Jerusalem.
Levin was killed while fighting Hizbullah terrorists during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The Jerusalem Soul Center, which Levin used to frequent often, held a special tribute including reflections by friends and the screening of the documentary A Hero in Heaven: The Michael Levin Story.
Michael Levin's mother and sister spoke from the United States via the internet. The program included a moment of silence for Yom Hazikaron and Maariv services.
Rabbi Ezra Amichai and his wife Malka-Chana run the Jerusalem Soul Center. Rabbi Amichai spoke to Israel National News about his friend and the tribute.
"Mike Levine is an amazing and tragic story at the same time," Rabbi Amichai stated. "In a short time he went into the army and was in the paratroopers unit doing all kinds of secret missions. He was busy all the time but still when he was free for Shabbat, he would always come to us and stay up half the night when I'm sure he was extremely tired."
In 2009 the Lone Soldier Center as founded in memory of Levin by a group of immigrant soldiers. The term "lone soldiers" refers to those who moved to Israel and have no immediate family in the country.
Rabbi Amichai said that Levin's friends were impressed by the fact that he voluntarily returned to Israel during the Second Lebanon War. Levin had alrady been discharged form the Israel Defense Force and was spending time in the United States when the war broke out.
Some of his friends didn't even realize that he had returned to the army until the funeral was announced. Rabbi Amichai related that he decided to return to his unit even though the IDF told him he was not required to return to Israel for reserve duty.
"It had a strong effect on many around us," Rabbi Amichai stated. "We try and bring his energy out and talk about him and keep his legacy alive by doing the things I think he loved -- being in Israel, being opened and spiritual and having a good time.
The Jerusalem Soul Center will also host a Yom Haatzmaut celebration the next day, Wednesday April 25th at 7:45pm which will include Maariv prayer services, the counting of the Omer and festivities for Israeli Independence Day.
The Jerusalem Soul Center offers Shabbat and holiday meals and events for English speaking residents, tourists and visitors. It is located at #20 Rabbi Akiva Street in downtown Jerusalem. For more information visit www.JerusalemSoulCenter.com.