Thousands attend the funeral of Captain Eitan Fisch, who was killed fighting in Gaza
Thousands attend the funeral of Captain Eitan Fisch, who was killed fighting in GazaAvi Edri/TPS

Yerucham's hesder yeshiva has lost nine students and alumni since Hamas declared war on Israel with the October 7 massacre.

Some of those were fourth-year students at the yeshiva, who had recently completed their compulsory service and had returned to full-time yeshiva studies, before they were called up for service.

Chaim Wolfson, one of the head rabbis at Yeshiva Hesder Yerucham, described to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that, one morning after two more of the yeshiva's students were killed in Gaza, "we came to the morning prayer and we couldn’t say anything. The students expected us to say something, but we were unable to."

The young soldiers are part of a generation which has seen intifadas and spates of bloody terror attacks, but almost no outright war. Since October 7, however, Israel has lost over 560 soldiers - the highest number since the First Lebanon War - and hundreds of civilians.

Most of the fallen soldiers are under 30 years of age; they span the spectrum of Israeli society.

Uri Keidar, 39, the executive director of Israel Hofsheet, a civil-society organization, told WSJ that the war "is a generational-changing situation. People are dying on a daily basis." Keidar has spent 140 days on reserve duty since October 7.

He added that a dozen alumni from his high school in central Israel have died in the war thus far.

A secular Ra'anana high school, Mor Metro-West High School, has lost seven alumni since the start of the war, and one female alumnus is held hostage in Gaza.

The school’s longtime former principal Amnon Bar Natan attended all seven funerals. He told WSJ, "It was very, very hard for me on a personal level."