Recently researchers at Hebrew University conducted an extensive survey of young Israelis, asking the question, “Who embodies heroism to you?”
Over and over, they heard the same name: Roi Klein.
Roi was born in Raanana, Israel in 1974, the son of two Holocaust survivors. Growing up, Roi was known as an exceptionally kind and thoughtful child who was devoted to daily Torah study.
Like every Israeli, he was drafted into the IDF at age 18. He served in the elite counter-terrorism unit of the Golani Brigade. Roi became an officer, and was the Deputy Commander of the 51st Brigade at the time of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
During the Battle of Bint Jbeil, Roi and his men were ambushed by Hezbollah terrorists. Roi was treating one of his wounded men, when a terrorist threw a grenade at the group.
Roi immediately threw his body on the grenade to save his men.
As the grenade exploded, mortally wounding him, Roi shouted out “Shema Yisrael” – the essential prayer of Judaism: “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” Traditionally, this is the last prayer a Jew says before death.
After the Shma, Roi reported his own death over the radio: “Klein is dead, Klein is dead.” He then succumbed to his wounds, leaving behind his wife Sara and two young children.
Roi was buried the next day, on his 31st birthday.
May his memory always be for a blessing.
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