Parting from Hillel Nehemiah, Z"L

"He joined a combat unit out of ideology": a cousin of the late Hillel Nehemiah in an interview with Srugim

The late soldier Hillel Nehemiah collapsed and died during military training. His cousin Yaffa told Srugim about his special personality; "quiet waters run deep" alongside the broad knowledge, ideology and nobility that characterized him

(Photo: Courtesy of the family)

"Great sadness": Corporal Hillel Nehemiah Ofan, 20 years old from Carmei Tzur, is the soldier who died last night after collapsing during training in the center of the country. The IDF said that the soldier was promoted from the rank of private to the rank of corporal after his death. Yaffe Malchieli Ofan from Rishon Lezion is his cousin. In a conversation with Srugim, she told about the special, beloved and caring person he was.

How are you feeling?

"Shock, still not digesting, great sorrow. It was really sudden. This landed on us on a clear day, there was no funeral yet, a very big storm of emotions."

She heard the news of his death as well as possible: "Hillel is a cousin on the father's side. Our fathers are very close brothers. My father called and told me about this, and then it was publicized. Everyone was informed from internal conversations. Only after the whole family knew in a normal way, his father agreed to publicize the news."

On the reactions on social media regarding his death: "I think that right now it is unnecessary to bother with all this, we lost a family member, Hillel is about my age, we grew up together, he is one of the cornerstones of the family, so we are less concerned with guilt and who is to blame. In the meantime, the army is investigating, in the future it will be possible to know more."

Tell me about the person he was.

"Hillel - 'Quiet waters run deep,' it was said about him, God-fearing, a genius in an unusual way, knowledgeable about everything in the Torah and the affairs of the world. He would go deep with his silence. A lot of ideology, he considered going to the army a real mission. Before that he was in Hesder yeshiva - Torah and Derech Eretz, caring, nobility, love."

"My family and theirs are very close. From childhood to this day, we participate in each other's family events. I remember a situation from childhood, from a family gathering, we were preparing a play and just before, I got stage fright and he gently approached and asked if I wanted him to replace me, gently without giving me a bad feeling."

She shares about his attitude towards family members: "He knew how to find specialness in everyone, he was very loved." Another memory in the family took place when there was a wedding for a cousin during the days of shiva for their grandmother, as a result, many people did not come, but he came, made the cousin happy and took care of the children."

In general, he brought joy to couples at their weddings: "Bringing joy to weddings, doing handstands, cartwheels, bringing happiness. He had a very close relationship with my brother. Additionally, just two weeks ago, there was a family bris, and he made a special effort to attend despite his short leave. A great loss. He went to his combat unit from ideology, a path of peace and love for Israel. May the Messiah come soon, God willing, and may we merit to see him in the resurrection of the dead with the help of God."

Regarding Hillel's family, she explains: "What guides the family is faith, there may be accusations and people asking questions, but the approach is first of all respect for the dead and a lot of faith, that there is no evil that comes down from above and there is certainly השגחה פרטית (private supervision) here. Let us learn and be strong and rise from the brokenness and add light and Torah as when he was alive."

Regarding the incident, she clarifies that the investigation is so that there will be no more such cases: "The truth should come to light. Hillel will not benefit from this, but to draw conclusions for other soldiers so that there will be no such cases. To have them begin in health and finish in health."

In conclusion, she says: "May the Messiah come, God willing, and may we merit to see him in the resurrection of the dead with the help of God."

As mentioned, Ofan was in the IDF for 5 months, and finished his training a few weeks ago. The incident occurred during crawling training, when the IDF commander realized he was lying down, gave him first aid and called a paramedic and the commander. Upon arrival, the paramedic gave the soldier medical treatment and called in a helicopter force of 669 - but as mentioned, his death was determined in the field. The IDF says that they did not know of a problematic medical background.

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