(photo credit: Courtesy)
The car stopped at the entrance to Park Adamit on the Lebanese border. Zvi and Atara Regev and Shlomo and Mickey Goldwasser came out of the car and looked around. It was a hot September afternoon. On the nearby hill towards the west they could clearly discern the road winding along the security fence that marks the border between Israel and Lebanon. They could also clearly see two army patrol vehicles making their way down the slope from the fortress that stands out against the horizon, guarding the area between them.
One can only guess what the bereaved parents felt at that moment when they arrived at Park Adamit for the first time to view the place that had been proposed as the commemoration site for their sons. Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev z"l, were the two IDF reservists who were attacked and kidnapped in the event that sparked the Second Lebanon War. Two years and four days after they were critically injured and kidnapped across the border, when no one knew if they were alive or dead, the bodies of the soldiers were finally returned for burial in Israel.
During those two years, the Israeli people, together with Jewish communities across the globe and the entire free world, followed the heartbreaking battle waged by the two families to obtain any information about their loved ones. Governments and world leaders as well as members of the families made every effort and seized every opportunity to bring the two sons home. When they were finally returned, all Israel mourned and felt as if they were part of those two families and that Eldad and Udi were close relatives.
Similar feelings prevailed among friends of KKL-JNF Canada. It was therefore no surprise when they offered to help establish a memorial site for the two IDF reservists who had become a symbol of need to return all her sons home. Everyone felt that the site should be located in the area in which the two soldiers served and fell. The site that was selected was Park Adamit - located on a mountaintop overlooking the entire Western Galilee, the Upper Galilee, the border, the patrol road, the communities on the coast, Mount Carmel and the Rosh Hanikra ridge where the coffins bearing the bodies of the two soldiers were returned, at the border crossing.
KKL-JNF began the construction of Park Adamit in 1996 and many visitors come to enjoy the park and the Rainbow Cave located on its western perimeter. The parents of Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were invited to visit the park to form their own impressions and decide upon a commemoration site that would be built at a place along the panoramic road that encircles Park Adamit.
Dr. Omri Boneh, director of the northern region of KKL-JNF described the potential site to enable the bereaved parents to make decisions about how the memories of their sons would be commemorated. He reiterated the history of the park, described the vegetation that grows there, the road leading to Rainbow Cave, the planned spice garden that would be accessible to blind visitors, and the new wheelchair-accessible road to Rainbow Cave.
Mickey Goldwasser, Udi's mother, asked, "Will the families of soldiers whose memories are already commemorated here object to another commemoration site being established in the same park?" Dr. Boneh explained that the policy of KKL-JNF is to adopt one section within the park for commemorating fallen soldiers, and each section constitutes a separate memorial site.
The small group gazed out at the breathtaking view that was partially hidden by the autumn haze. The view overlooked the surrounding communities of the Western Galilee that came under Hezballah rocket fire during the Second Lebanon War. Mickey was interested in every detail while Shlomo Goldwasser gazed quietly out at the view.
Zvi Regev said that recently he was constantly thinking about a memorial site. "Religious families usually think first about having a Torah scroll written as a memorial. One of my sons proposed the idea of a site in Nature in the forest and when KKL-JNF proposed such a site, we agreed.
With sensitivity and understanding Omri Boneh - together with Ze'ev Kedem, director of KKL-JNF fundraising division - showed the parents the roads of Park Adamit, allowing them ample time to absorb the atmosphere of the place and to focus upon their emotions. Slowly they walked among the young cedar, pine, cypress, carob and birch trees. "KKL-JNF professionals will be at your service when designing the commemoration site and will cooperate with your ideas about the engraving at the site for generations to come."
"I would like the names of the three other friends who were killed on the spot at that fateful patrol not to be forgotten in the engraving," said Mickey Goldwasser, "and something could be written in Braille along the spice path for blind visitors."
"In the end, although the investment depends upon the contributions, we will do our best to make the commemoration site an impressive one so that your private memorial ceremonies can be held here and also to make the site a public memorial for your sons, who have become a national symbol," noted Omri Boneh.
The detailed plans will be discussed between KKL-JNF and the Regev and Goldwasser families. Planning will begin immediately afterwards. Within a few months visitors to Park Adamit will be able to honor the memories of Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who have become part of the pain of our national memory.
For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail [email protected]