Saturday, November 01, 2008

A touching story

And it's all true.

A story of a love that lasted beyond the grave, and the closing of a circle half-a-century on. In the dark days of the second world war, a Jewish volunteer by the name of Shlomo Kopel joined the British army in order to defeat the Nazi menace. He rose through the ranks and became sergeant, which was quite an achievement for a foreign Jewish volunteer. Unfortunately he contracted a sickness which led to his demise in 1946 in London at age 37, leaving a widow, a son and a daughter (links to IDF site in Hebrew). In time, Dina, the widow remarried and bore another daughter, who was given the name of Shlomit, in honour of Shlomo Kopel. That by itself is touching, but it's only the beginning. Shlomo's kibbutz, Kibbutz Na'an, requested that his earthly remains should be repatriated to the state of Israel, a state that Shlomo himself didn't see arise. Despite the CWGC not practicing repatriation, as Shlomo had died in London and was buried in a civil cemetery, rather than a war cemetery after battle together with comrades, the request was granted, and in 1951 his bones were laid to rest in the earth of his kibbutz. By that time, Na'an had inaugurated a new cemetery putside the gate, but Shlomo was interred in the "old cemetery" inside the kibbutz, together with those who fell in Israel's war of independence.
In 1999, Dina's second husband (the father of Shlomit) passed away, and for the first time in almost fifty years there was a burial in Na'an's "old cemetery" as he was laid to rest near Shlomo, and the following year Dina joined her two husbands in eternal peace, and was buried adjoining them. On her grave appear three surnames, her maiden name of Sheffi, then Kopel, and her final name of Oren.
The story is made all that more touching as I heard it first-hand from Shlomit (who agreed that I can publish it)

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