You are the uncle I never knew.
Even my mother and sister hardly knew you.
As a child, I saw your picture hanging on Grandma’s wall.
As I grew older, your image filled a larger space in the room and also opened a larger space in my heart.
You looked at us silently, from the corner wall when we celebrated Passover and other holidays.
Mischievous eyes smiled at us whenever we visited Grandma on Shabbat and weekdays.
I had a feeling that only when grandmother was alone in her room, only then would you open your mouth and speak,
Because every time I came to Grandma’s room when she was alone, I could hear her murmuring something…
When I entered the room, she was wiping away her secret tears as her gaze was fixed upon the wall, then a moment later, on me.
When I was grown up, I realized that she turned and spoke to you
Mainly she asked for forgiveness.
Sorry that she sent a 16-year-old boy to the front lines to fight.
I still cannot comprehend it…
To this day I cannot understand how such a young boy was called to fight, carrying a gun around, without training – even basic training, no training at all. And in the brutal firing zone of Ramat Rachel, you were shot and silenced forever.
Eli, you are the uncle I missed, and the cousins who would have been your children, I also miss.
For sure you would have called your son Benjamin, named after your Grandfather. And for your daughter, you would have called her Miri, Mirela or leave it as Miriam.
Just like Grandma. That is our custom, for us to give our boys and girls the name of our Grandparents.
Instead, many of my cousins were called Eli – in your name, in your memory.
Eli, although you were not known to us, none of your nephews knew you; your grave became a fixed house that we were very familiar with.
Grandma started a tradition for the whole family to visit your grave every Yom Hazikaron, and after she passed away, our family still continues to visit every year.
Your little brother, Nissim, watches with anticipation for your name to slide past on the television.
Unfortunately, every year the screen time is shorter, because every year, more names are added to the list.
Which means that time is short and the list goes on and on.
Dear Eli, even though I did not know you as well as most of the family do, you will always be to me “Uncle Eli”
Beloved Uncle that I never got a chance to know.