"These are our Days of Awe"

The father of Lt. David Golovensitz, who was killed in Hevron 9 months ago, speaks about his son and the first Remembrance Day without him.

Hezki Baruch ,

Shimon Golovensitz
Shimon Golovensitz
Hezki Baruch

Shimon Golovensitz, is the father of Lt. David Golovensitz z"l, who was killed in Hevron nine months ago. He spoke to Arutz Sheva about his beloved son and the first Remembrance Day that the family will mark without him.

He said that whereas the days between Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year – and Yom Kippur, are known as the Days of Awe, for the family, the real Days of Awe are the anniversary of the day on which David fell, and the Day of Remembrance for IDF Soldiers, which begins this evening (Monday).

"Our whole life has changed, the meaning has all changed, and you find youself facing situations that you do not know how to deal with," the bereaved father explained.

Golovensitz told us of the difficulty of coming to grips with the fact that nine months have passed without David. "When I thought of the yahrzeit (annual memorial), I told myself that I have a year to go," he recounted. "This passed in the blink of an eye, I did not feel the time passing. A week ago I was at Har Herzl, at the yarzeit for Elchai Taharlev, who was killed three months before David, and I realized that I have only three months to go before the yarzeit. This caught me off guard. These things always catch us off guard."

Recalling the day on which his son was killed, Shimon said that a few days earlier, he flew to the US to escort a planeload of Olim – new immigrants – in honor of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem. "I wanted David to come with me and bring the Olim, because he was a Zionist leader who was imbued with a sense of mission, and I wanted him to come and talk to them about Zionism. It seems that my heart told me that something was about to happen, and so I 'fought' with him and asked that he join me on this flight, but David said he had new soldiers [under his command] and he could not leave them.

"I went to the US and returned a few hours before this happened, and in a few hours, our lives turned upside down," he related. "We turned from a regular family that lives regular lives to people who live in a parallel world, people whose former lives bear no connection to their current lives. It was like dying and waking up in another world, a world in which the only meaning is the connection to the most basic things in life; to tikkun olam."

Golovensitz recalled a meeting with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Rabbi of Efrat, where the family resides. In that meeting, he told Raabi Riskin that as a father who was very involved in his children's world, "I had trouble dealing with a situation in which they developed a cough – and suddenly I found myself as a father bereft of his son. Rabbi Riskin told me, 'Your son was a Metaken Olam – one who improves the world. You shall continue to improve the world, for yourself and for him. Keep walking with him and improve the world together.' And that is what we do, we continue his path."

Shimon spoke of David's leadership qualities, which were already apparent when he was in kindergarten and elementary school. "He led all of the school's programs. They had a program for studying a page of Gemara in the morning and he led that program. He would wake up in the morning, go to the mikveh [ritual bath], I would go with him since I did not want him to go alone, then he would go to school an hour before everyone else and lead the program, as he did with other amazing programs. He was the Excellent Student in the school that is now named after him. A program about the vision of the Prophets was named after him."

Regarding this last program, Shimon said that we are currently living in the reality that the Prophets predicted without feeling this in our everyday lives. "And the school teaches the children these things and I believe that it will be a pilot for all the schools in Israel – [which will teach] the fulfillment of the Prophets' vision, so that people will feel it in their everyday lives. We have already passed the stage of 'Atchalta DiGeula' [Beginning of Redemption]. We are halfway along the road and perhaps very close to the phase of Redemption. We are fulfilling the dream, we have rights and we are living in a State of Israel that we never dreamt of," he explained – and cited Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat, who has been accompanying the program from its inception.

"We try to walk in David's footsteps, in the path of tikkun olam. David went to Bnei Tzvi (the high school yeshiva in which he studied in Bet El) and he turned into a man and a strong, powerful leader. We named David after King David and indeed, he was like King David, he looked like King David, big and powerful and possessing delicateness and sensitivity like King David. He completed Bnei Tzvi and went to Shavei Hevron, and in the period between the two yeshivas he led the Jewish Home party's campaign in Jerusalem, which was hugely successful."

Regarding the period of time David spent studying at Shavey Hevron, Shimon recounted that his son had a great love and special bond with the city. "He connected to the entire meaning of Hevron, of the Cave of Machpelah, to the Yeshiva Head, Rabbi Hanani, and they became soulmates. I went there after David was killed, to attend a special evening that they held in his memory, and I felt David. The sanctity and the Jewish strength, the Jewish spirit that exists in the yeshiva – that was David, who had the strength to cause everyone to follow him."

David went on a two-month trip after graduating. "The Army called and said he had been accepted to the Sayeret [an elite reconnaissance unit] and asked him to come on a certain Thursday. We called him but on Thursday he said that he was stuck in Abu Dhabi and that there were no flights. He arrived on Sunday and they were signing up soldiers to the Golani Brigade. He thought of transferring to the Sayeret later on and for a while, they wanted to transfer him to the Sayaret, but he said that he would remain in the battalions because 'the Sayeret is for the weak.' The battalions are composed of 'amcha Israel' and that is where he feels he needs to be."

The military wanted David to become an officer. He thought he was too old for the Officers' Course, rode his scooter to the beach to think matters over and decided against becoming an officer. The army applied pressure, however, and he relented. "His connection to the soldiers and his ability to lead them and realize his tremendous power of leadership was great. Soldiers admired him and followed him through thick and thin. At the funeral, I hugged a thousand soldiers, perhaps, and one after the other they said in my ear, 'He touched my soul,' 'He changed my life,' 'He was my leader.' Many soldiers have kept in touch and told us of the change he created in their lives. He turned them into people who do not cut themselves any slack, people who know that they have to go all the way even when it seems impossible."

Many soldiers were afraid to have him as their commander since he was known to be a tough and demanding officer. David "taught them that you can do what you think is impossible. It was David who passed through walls. He could touch reality and change it."