newsIsrael at War

‘I placed him on the grave so that he could be closest to his father’

St. Sgt. (res.) Yedidya Eliyahu was killed in action in Gaza on Nov. 3. This week, his widow brought his newborn son to the gravesite.

Meitar Eliyahu, the widow of St. Sgt. (res.) Yedidya Eliyahu, at his grave at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. Photo by Oren Cohen.
Meitar Eliyahu, the widow of St. Sgt. (res.) Yedidya Eliyahu, at his grave at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. Photo by Oren Cohen.

A moving and heartfelt moment occurred this week at Mount Herzl when Meitar Eliyahu, the widow of St. Sgt. (res.) Yedidya Eliyahu, who was killed in the Gaza war in early November, brought her newborn son Porat Aviya to his father’s grave at the military cemetery for the first time—a mere few weeks after his birth.

With one hand, Meitar gently caressed the engraved stone with the name of her beloved, and with the other, she held their infant son.

Meitar delicately placed Porat Aviya on the Israeli flag draped over his father’s grave, in the place where a loving father would embrace his young son.

The 25-year-old Meitar shared her feelings: “I placed Porat Aviya on the gravestone so he could be as close as possible to his father, Yedidya,” she said. “I went up to the grave because it had been a long time, and this was Porat Aviya’s first time. This is his father’s grave and a meeting place. This gravestone is what remains and the place to go to him.

“We also have two young daughters, Maor Ziva and Avigail. When they come to the grave, they sit on the grave because that’s what they want and it’s comfortable for them,” she said.

Eliyahu, a combat engineer from Karnei Shomron, was killed in action in Gaza on Nov. 3, two weeks before his 26th birthday.

“They mobilized Yedidya during the Simchat Torah holiday, and he was among the first forces to enter Gaza. Yedidya remained on reserve duty until he fell,” his widow said.

“He was a calm, serene and happy person. He was an involved father in raising the children and had a golden touch. Yedidya went into battle fearlessly, on a mission. He said, ‘We have nothing to fear. We need to avenge Israel’s honor. God is with us. We’re going into battle. This is a war of mitzvah [required by Torah].’ Yedidya did not express any fear or worry to me.”

The birth of Porat Aviya and raising her children bring Meitar many joyful moments, alongside the challenging coping process.

“Yedidya left us a gift in this world. There is a lot of joy, and we need to look at the good—new lives coming into the world. We are happy about Porat Aviya, but it’s difficult and not simple to raise him alone. Yedidya’s physical presence is missing, but he is always with us in our hearts.

“We try to have Yedidya part of our lives as much as possible. I pray that I will succeed in passing on to the children who he was,” she said.

Meitar concluded with a powerful message: “Don’t be afraid. Fight until the end, despite the difficult losses and sorrow. This is our land. There is also life and joy, and life goes on alongside sorrow and bereavement. We need to continue building the land, fighting and growing.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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