On Wednesday, Israelis from across the country visited cemeteries and participated in memorial services remembering friends and loved ones who died defending Israel, or who were victims of terrorist attacks.

Among those remembering the dead, however, were some visitors from abroad.

Stuart Steinberg, an attorney from the southern California town of Woodland Hills, joined those gathering at Mount Herzl Wednesday, to remember his own son, Max, who died at the age of 24 nearly five years ago.

Max, who left California to enlist in the IDF as a lone soldier a few months after a Birthright trip to Israel in 2013, served as a sniper in the Golani Brigade for less than a year, before he was killed when his armored personnel carrier was destroyed by Hamas bombs in July 2014.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Max’s father, Stuart, discussed the ways he and his family have kept their son’s memory alive – and how they’ve worked to help other lone soldiers who, like their son, moved on their own to Israel to enlist in the IDF.

“This is my second time here at this time of year,” said Steinberg of his visit to Israel during the week of Yom HaZikaron (Israeli memorial day) and Israeli Independence Day.

“This year is exceptionally special because we came from Poland and Auschwitz, we brought his Sefer Torah [Torah Scroll], brought it back to Israel. And we’re going to be marching with the March of the Living one more time, from City Hall to the Kotel [Western Wall].”

Max Steinberg
Max SteinbergCourtesy of the family

“As a bereaved parent and seeing this and experiencing this and having an opportunity to just be embraced and loved by so many people is the best.”

Stuart recalled the outpouring of support when some 30,000 people showed up to his son’s funeral in July 2014.

“At his funeral there were, I’m told, 30,000 people. To me it was a blur, but to have that kind of appreciation and respect for a lone soldier is a beautiful thing.”

“Once Max was killed, our lives were turned upside down. It will never be the same. We are very involved in Jewish causes. We’re on the board of directors of an organization called the Families of Lone Soldiers, which supports families like ours, both bereaved as well as…families of soldiers that are here and their parents are in the United States and in other countries.”

“We get strength by doing good. Max did good, and we felt that we needed to do something more.”