Lone Soldiers: It takes two to samba

Inseparable from an early age, Marcel and Caio took their friendship from the soccer streets of Sao Paulo to the hard tackle of the IDF’s Home Front Command.

Caio Marcel Weinstein (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Caio Marcel Weinstein
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Marcel Weinstein and Caio Feuerstein have been best friends ever since they can remember. They went to the same school and summer camps, and every day kicked a soccer ball around the streets near their homes in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As kids though they never imagined that they would both immigrate to Israel and not only serve at the same time in the IDF but also in the same unit – the Home Front Command’s elite Search-and-Rescue Unit.
Weinstein and Feuerstein, today 20, first came to Israel together in 2006 for their sophomore year of high school. The Second Lebanon War that summer foiled their plans to complete high school together after Weinstein’s parents ordered him back home over what seemed like an unstable security situation in Israel. It was the first time their paths had split since third grade.
While Weinstein returned to Sao Paulo to complete high school, he did so reluctantly. After graduation, he sat down with his parents and told them that he had made up his mind and that he was returning to Israel.
“I am going back to serve in the IDF,” he said.
“I decided to come back and I convinced them even though it wasn’t easy,” he said. “They ultimately supported me since they understood that serving in the army was part of my growing up and learning about life and this was something they couldn’t argue with.”
Last August, Weinstein was drafted into the Home Front Command, following closely in the footsteps of his friend Caio, who was drafted into the same search-and-rescue unit just several months earlier. While a draft ahead, Feuerstein says that he sees his best friend often – during training exercises and deployments throughout the country.
The Home Front Command’s Search-and Rescue Unit is responsible for all rescue operations following earthquakes or missile attacks and often deploys overseas in humanitarian missions such as in Haiti, Turkey and India.
“I came to Israel especially to do the army and looked for what was most important and this is it,” Feuerstein said. “We save lives and that is why I am serving here.”
In a phone conversation from Sao Paulo, Ariel Weinstein, Marcel’s older brother, admitted that it was at first extremely difficult for his parents when his brother decided to go back to Israel.
“Everyone is at home, he is the smallest brother and we all worry about him all the time,” Ariel said. “But, he wanted to go to Israel and it is his life to live.”
What will the two do after their army service? Don’t worry, they say, they will continue to be together and the two friends are already planning their post-army trip overseas. After that? Who knows, they say. “Maybe we will open a Brazilian restaurant in Israel.”