A Bisl Torah

March of the Living–A Unique Journey

I was asked why this March of the Living was different than past trips to Poland.

Each trip is special. This journey was unique because we traveled with the Steinberg family.

Stuart, Evie, Jake and Paige Steinberg joined our Sinai Temple delegation and shared with us, the story of Max, their beloved son and brother. And they shared themselves, adding their hearts to our Sinai Temple family.

Years prior, Jake and Paige decided to go on Birthright and urged their brother, Max to join the trip. The three siblings were touched and transformed by Israel in different ways. But for Max, Israel became inextricably part of his soul. And so, he decided to make Aliyah and soon joined the IDF.

Nothing was more important to Max than his fellow soldiers. He was the last one to go to sleep at night and the first to wake up, always putting 110 percent into his training and army responsibilities. Every soldier knew Max’s name. His energy, persistence, drive to succeed, positivity, and loyalty to others felt contagious. All this was Max…and so much more.

In 2014, Max was called to fight in the Gaza War. He was injured, given permission to go home and recuperate. But as Max explained to his family, there was never going to be a time in which he left his fellow soldiers alone. He went back into Gaza and ultimately, died fighting for the Jewish state and the people of Israel.

This year, in Poland, Max’s family carried a beautiful, small, delicate Sefer Torah. A Torah adorned in the colors of the Golani, Max’s unit: yellow and green. The Torah was written with the purposes of being a battlefield Torah, small enough to carry, but large enough to feel God’s presence and the limitless connection to the Jewish people. This Sefer Torah was marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom Hashoah, and then again through the streets of Jerusalem to the Kotel on Yom Haatzmaut. And as his family carried Max’s Torah, the Sinai delegation wore duplicates of Max’s dog tags. We held Max’s story as we paid tribute to the victims of the Shoah, souls that never saw the existence and miracle of a state of Israel.

Max is no longer physically with us. However, his legacy and story will endure for all time. He is a hero. A man who gave his life to protect our people. As future generations read his Torah, they will wonder how they too, will serve Israel, and how they too, will serve the Jewish people.

On this Yom Haatzmaut, let us thank God for the land of Israel. Let us thank God for Max. Heroes that enable us to say the words, “Am Yisrael Chai.” Because of people like Max, the people of Israel will endure forever and ever.

Shabbat Shalom 

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