Meir Ukeles

Meir Ukeles a Golani comrade

A few recollections, particularly about the kind, soft-spoken way he had of doing the right thing and helping those around him to be better people:

-Yehoshua was standing near the window of the small beit knesset tent we had at a base in the Jordan Valley, and seeing Menashe a very tall, very strong non-religious member of our platoon pass by and look into the tent, he called out, in the gentlest way "Menashe, why don't you come in". Yehoshua proceeded in a quiet, gentle way to help Menashe put on tefillin and go through the basic morning tefillot.

-At the end of a long and difficult night exercise (beginning with an aerial helicopter assault, a long march with full gear, a simulated attack on an enemy position), Yehoshua running along carrying his machine gun, I found myself running next to him rather than helping carry the stretcher - and he looked over at me, with a not unkind but slightly sad look on his face, and whispered to me "dont you think you should be back there under the stretcher"?, which immediately is where I went rather than see that semi-disappointed look again.

-Another exercise in which Yehoshua and I were paired together shooting the machine gun at targets roughly one kilometer away - I was operating the machine gun, he was spotting targets and correcting my fire. my trust in him was so great that I took off my glasses (which were filled with dirt and lubrication oil), and followed his instructions word for word - until suddenly a senior officer refereeing the exercise noticed Yehoshua was sitting too far upright, and declared him 'wounded' - the last thing I remember was Yehoshua being carried off slung over someone's shoulder, looking back at me with a wicked grin and an exaggerated shrug which clearly conveyed an amused message of "oh well, good luck with seeing what you're shooting at now".

-Standing around on yet another endless shift of guard duty, talking about what we would do when we finished the army in a couple of months, Yehoshua talking about his plans for the future, dismissing the possibility of staying longer in the army with the comment that "we've done our duty, it's time to move forward", and then talking about the freedom of being a civilian again, one of us came up with the best idea of all: we would get a whole sheep, have it shechted, build a fire pit on a beach somewhere, and roast the sheep on a spit, sleep out on the beach eating BBQ sheep and swimming for three days, entirely wild and free.

-A final memory, the Friday before he was killed, Yehoshua stuck in base while the rest of us were going out, asking me very pointedly to call Karen his girlfriend as soon as I got to Jerusalem. When I protested that he could just as easily call her from the payphone on the base, he said "who knows if I'll get free to call her, and I want her to hear from someone before shabbat that I'm OK and will be getting out on Sunday"