Just eighteen months – and one terrible war – after he graduated from Boys Town Jerusalem, IDF Sergeant Oshri Turgeman returned to his alma mater on Memorial Day to pay tribute to his fallen comrades. Speaking before the student body, he shared details of his combat experiences and the miracles he experienced in the battlefield of last summer’s “Operation Protective Edge.”
“At the very moment I came under fire in Gaza, I understood perfectly that the lessons I’d learned at Boys Town, especially the Torah values and ethics, were true lessons for life. In combat against a cruel enemy, we soldiers applied those values in the field. Unlike Hamas, Israel’s army operates under strict orders to protect the lives of innocent civilians.”
Sergeant Turgeman, 20, studied at Boys Town Jerusalem from seventh through twelfth grade, where he excelled in his Computer Studies major. In November 2013, Turgeman enlisted in the IDF Givati Brigade’s #603 Combat Engineering Battalion. When Operation Protective Edge broke out last July, his unit was the first to be sent to Gaza. It was also the last unit to be released nearly one month later.
“Our mission was primarily to detect and explode the booby-trapped tunnels that Hamas had laid throughout the Gaza Strip. Day and night we were exposed to danger. Many of my comrades were injured, and four of my comrades were killed.”
Yet miracles happened as well. “We were given orders to enter a building suspected of being a Hamas stronghold. When we broke through, we found weapons and signs of preparation for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Suddenly we noticed a monitor with a time-clock ticking backwards from 20 seconds. There was no time to detach it or to flee the building. And then it reached 14 seconds and simply stopped before it could explode the building. A true miracle.”
“I have an important message for you,” he told the students. “You may complain about the long day, the intensive studies, and the many demands for excellence that are placed upon you at Boys Town. But these are the source of the most vital lessons that will prove to be your guide in the military and in life. Listen to your rabbis and your teachers, and give them the appreciation they deserve. They are meticulously preparing you to defend the lives of others and to live your own lives to the fullest.”