In the Merit of Brotherly Love Pesach Week, 1948. Katamoun, a vital strategic suburb dominating the southern neighborhoods and areas south of the New City of Jerusalem; conquer Katamoun and you conquer the city. Situated at the edge of Katamoun stands the Saint Simeon Monastery, a large two story building constructed from Jerusalem stone, the key control point. 12 Noon. Light rain began. My Father and his comrades of Company B positioned themselves about fifty feet east from the monastery fence waiting for the order to attack. Images of his beloved parents and siblings were flashing before him. Surprising them, he had arrived in the middle of the family Pesach Seder just some time before. Whatever was going to happen in the coming battle at least he knew that had seen his family, and even managed to bring three chickens to feed them for the holiday. “Now! After me!” yelled the Company commander. Brave, athletic, extremely intelligent, and well trained, both in arms, hand-to-hand combat and improvisation on the field, the company knew the moment of truth had arrived. Running across the battlefield, dodging enemy fire, the Spirit of the Maccabees and Bar Kochva fighters surged through their blood; they were no longer teenagers, private citizens, but custodians of the souls of 2000 years of longing, the sons and daughters of the first generation of Chalutzim, and the guardians of the honor of the Shoah victims, so brutally massacred only two years earlier. Five months had passed from the day the UN had declared that both peoples, Jewish and Palestinian, would divide the land, creating a two state solution. Unfortunately, and tragically the announcement met with violence thus commencing the War. The dream of the children of Avraham Avinu living peacefully would be postponed. It was now a matter of p'chauch nefesh, saving the lives of all Jewish inhabitants; religious, secular, rightists, leftists, native, exiled returnees, nationalist and anti-nationalist. Reaching the fence my Father and his men passed through the entrance, entering the monastery. After a short while they secured the ground floor while the enemy forces were still shooting from the outside the edifice. Running up the stairs and passed the monks' quarters my Father was the first to reach the rooftop. Before him laid three live hand grenades just thrown by the enemy from down below. With only seconds remaining before the platoon were to step onto the rooftop, and fearing for his fellow comrades' lives, at great risk to himself, he grabbed the grenades and threw them off the edge. The agility and quick reflexes he had developed as a child playing Jerusalem Five Stones had saved the moment. With the coming hours his boyhood skills would be put to test. Meanwhile Company A led by Dado Elazar and platoon commander, Ruful Eitan, including Sharon Lev Tov had reached the monastery and took defensive positions along the stone wall. Some seventy-five feet away the enemy under the cover of bushes, trees and stone terraces was advancing. Suddenly a storm of hellfire began. On the rooftop, two young women, kibbutzniks, one named Zippora, and several young men took positions along the roof under my Father's command. Grenade after grenade was hurled onto the rooftop. Each Palmachnik grabbed any grenade that was near and flung it back below. Each gave cover to the other as they threw back the explosives. As he had learned to calculate distance and timing from the Five Stones game my Father now calculated the amount of time an explosive landed on the rooftop to the time it would explode. Running along the rooftop, grabbing as many grenades he could manage, he threw them back at the enemy. Unable to reach those too far, he threw himself on the rooftop, covering his head with both hands as shrapnel and debris flew, falling on him, even penetrating him. Blocking the intense pain he continued to race and grab the grenades. 3:00 PM An endless shower of grenades were falling. One fell next to the “Unknown Palmachnik”, a 19 year old kibbutznik who a day earlier was called to join the operation. Desperately trying to reach the grenade, it exploded, blowing off the back of his upper leg. Unable to stop the bleeding my Father raced down below to the ground floor to bring the medic. As he came down the stairs he noticed Ruful stationed at the window, with gun in hand, firing. Suddenly an enemy bullet flew through the window hitting his left temple. But the bullet's gunpowder wasn't powerful enough to penetrate. “Ruful's name wasn't written on the bullet”. With the bullet half-stuck in his temple, Ruful removed it and continued firing. Amazed by this sight but with no time to spare, my Father proceeded to find the medic. Locating him, they raced to the rooftop. Still conscious but in a tremendous amount of pain the medic bandaged the leg securely, successfully stopping the bleeding. Running from Palmachnik to Palmachnik, encouraging each one, especially the young ladies, who were very shaken up, my Father suddenly remembered the famous fortress scene from Beau Geste, a movie seen as a boy. He began to run along the rooftop, placing several Sten guns on the wall's edge with hats on them. The false targets gave the platoon the needed diversion to return fire. But as day passed into evening with no reinforcement in sight, the pounding of enemy fire and the volley of an endless shower of grenades the end seemed near. With the two companies combined, it was still 120 against 1000 of the enemy. And causalities were mounting up. My father and three other Palmachnikim discussed all the options. Retreat would be best solution. Katamoun would be conquered another day. Sitting next to the staircase and overhearing the conversation the “Unknown Palmachnik” listened intently. “Ok. All of us are getting of here. We leave no one behind. Are we Palmach or not? Po Lo Meznechnim Haver.” Though Palmach stood for Palgut Machatz, Spearhead Forces, the Palmachnikm had given the acronym a different meaning. Peh – Po, Lamed – Lo, Mem – Meznechim, Chet – Chever: Here don't leave a friend behind. “Palmach.” agreed the four. “We will make a stretcher and place him (the Unknown Palmachnik) on it. All of us will evacuate.” Brotherhood. Unity. Sacrifice. The very ideals and sentiments that makes one Jewish even those not shomer mitzvos. It is the Jewish heart that will not abandon nor default nor allow others to place themselves in harm's way. Moved by their loving concern for his life and safety, the “Unknown Palmachnik” unbeknownst to the others crawled down the stairs until he found an area covered with shattered glass. Sitting on the glass he began to rub back and forth, tearing apart the bandages, releasing the blood to flow from his leg. With the stretcher ready my Father and the others looked for him. He was lying on the glass, half-smiling and no longer alive. He too believed in those great words, “Po Lo Meznchim Hever” When he heard that four Jews were to place his life to save his, he took his life to save them. Nightfall had come and the fighting ended. Several hours passed and suddenly the enemy troops had left. Dawn had broken. So intense and ferocious was the fighting that a patch of Zippora's brown hair turned pure white from fear. Some say the heroic deed of the “Unknown Palmachnik” is what caused the tide to be turned. No one thought that Katamoun would end in Jewish hands that day. “If ever I experienced a miracle it was then. The enemy just ran away.”, said my Father. And now when you go to Katamoun there is a shul that thousands attend every day. Maybe that too is in the merit of the “Unknown Palmachnik”, a secular Jew who gave his life to save other Jews. The crying whispers of the Jewish hearts over the course of two millennium of exile encouraged the young men and women of 1948 to be superhuman, to rise above political or religious divide and bring an new dawn to Jewish People; a dawn of mutual respect, dignity, and fraternity. The lack of which led us into exile in the first place. Sixty four years ago my Father, one of the conquerors of Beit Shemesh, is saddened to see that sixty four years later there is anger, hatred, and division within his Beloved People. Does not Hashem Yisbrach want us to be like Aaron HaCohen, “Love Peace, Pursue Peace, Love Human Beings, and Brings Others to Torah”?