Monument for 73 soldiers who died in the 1997 helicopter disaster
Monument for 73 soldiers who died in the 1997 helicopter disaster Chen Leopold/Flash 90

It's been 20 years since the infamous Helicopter Catastrophe in which 73 IDF soldiers were killed. The very mention of the tragedy brings chills to most Israelis – yet most of them do not know of an amazing footnote to the story, one that concerns phone numbers from another world that led a bereaved mother to say, "I'm no longer afraid of death."

The tragedy occurred on a stormy night in northern Israel in February 2017, when two Israel Air Force helicopters crashed into each other on their way to bring reinforcements and replacements to the soldiers stationed in Lebanon. No one on the copters survived the crash.

The Hofman family of Metula, located just 8 miles away from the crash site, sensed that their son Ela was among the dead because he had not called within ten minutes of the news. After all, he was a responsible boy who called his mother Alyssia every day to assure her that he was safe. When official confirmation of his death came, Alyssia sobbed herself to sleep.

And she had a dream. She dreamt that she saw her son Ela holding a new cellular phone and asking her to write down a phone number. Alyssia awoke and remembered every detail – including the phone number, which she quickly wrote down. She dared not dial it.

It was a full 30 days later, when the official mourning period had ended, that she decided to take the plunge. With trembling fingers, she dialed the number that her son had left her in her dream – and a woman's voice answered.

Alyssia came straight to the point: "Shalom. My son was killed in the Helicopter Catastrophe, and I dreamt that he gave me your phone number." Quiet on the other end. Then, abruptly, the woman who answered the phone blurted out, "Oy vayvoy! My boyfriend was killed in an IDF helicopter accident in 1982!"

The two women – Alyssia and Shifra Frankel of Kfar Bilu, near Rehovot – spoke no more that day. Twelve years later, they met again, arranged by Israel's Channel Two television station in Metula. Also present, the Hidabroot site reports, was Rachel Yerushalmi, sister of Avi, the soldier killed in the 1982 helicopter accident.

The three women shared the amazing insights into death with which their incredible story inspired them. Rachel said, "It is totally unimaginable, to think that perhaps Ela and Avi met in the World of Truth… When I first heard the story, I felt as if my brother was returning to me and communicating with me somehow. I felt good."

Alyssia said, "My feeling was that with that phone number, my son was giving me a clear message: 'Mom, I'm OK.'"

"My feeling is that there's continuation, it's not over," she added. "After the outer shell leaves, the soul remains – and that is what you gave me," she said with great emotion to Shifra. "The minute you said, 'Oh no, my boyfriend was killed in a helicopter accident,' I understood everything. Because Ela always told me where he was, and this time, he chose you, via the dream, to tell me."

"I'm no longer afraid of death," she concluded. "Death does seem quite scary, but now, when I know that it's not the end, I'm much less scared."

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