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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski / Courtesy)
Every year, Ruth and Yitzhak Rennert - American Jews with a long and impressive history of philanthropy in Israel - donate Torah scrolls to synagogues here, bearing the names of the country's fallen - soldiers, victims of terror attacks, and other righteous individuals who gave their lives in service of the Jewish state and for the Jewish people.
But when newly-elected MK Danny Danon (Likud) was invited to participate in this year's inauguration of Rennert-donated Torah scrolls in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday, he discovered a remarkable coincidence.
"When I looked at the invitation, it listed the names of people the Torah scrolls had been donated for," Danon told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "After looking it over, I saw that one of the Torah scrolls was being donated for the fallen sons of Kibbutz Givat Brenner, including the name, Daniel Vardon. I couldn't believe my eyes."
Vardon was an IDF commander during the Six Day War whose troops included Joseph Danon, the Likud MK's late father. When their platoon came under heavy fire from Egyptian forces during the battle of El-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, Vardon was killed in front of his men, deeply affecting Danon's father.
"My father took his death very hard," Danon said. "He later told me that after Vardon was killed, he made a promise to himself right there, at El-Arish, that if he ever had another child, he would name him after Vardon."
Joseph Danon made it through the Six Day War, but found himself under fire again two years later, at a battle in the Jordan Valley during the War of Attrition. He was severely hurt and hospitalized for months afterward, emerging from the hospital a wounded veteran with medical problems that would plague him for the next 25 years.
Nonetheless, the elder Danon went home and back to work, continuing on with his life.
"Two years later, I was born," Danny Danon said. "And my father named me Daniel, after his commander who fell at El-Arish."
Joseph Danon passed away in 1994 from complications that remained from the wounds he sustained during the War of Attrition, but his son went on to dedicate his life to politics, winning the 23rd spot on the Likud's Knesset list in the 1999 elections. While the party won only 19 seats in that election, Danon remained an active member of the Likud, running for the party's leadership in 2007.
In the 2008 Likud primaries, Danon won the 24th spot on the Likud list and is now serving his first term in the Knesset - the importance of which, he said, was only reinforced by Tuesday's Torah scroll inauguration.
"For me personally, seeing Vardon's name on the list for this ceremony only reminds me even more of the fact that I am continuing on the path of both Vardon my father," he said. "I'm sorry to say that the same enemies we had in 1967 are still here today, and we're still locked in a struggle for our very existence and the existence of our children. But by taking part in the ceremony today, and seeing Vardon's name on the Torah scroll, it reminded me of the kind of heroes that helped this country survive, and it gives me the strength to continue on their path."
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