A fellow Philadelphian, Michael Levine ( first sergeant in paratroopers brigade) was killed in battle in Lebanon last night, one of three Israeli troops die in close combat with the Hizbullah. He was 22 years old.

Michael Levine came to Israel from Philadelphia four years ago, and spent time on Kibbutz Yavne.

He joined the Israeli army three years ago, and was soon to be released from active service.

The Israeli army allows every “single soldier” whose family lived abroad with the honor of a one month out of the country to visit parents.

Well, Michael Levine used that privilege to visit Philadelphia a few weeks ago. However, when he heard that his unit was sent for active duty to Lebanon, he cut short his Philadelphia furlough, wished his parents well and came back last week to rejoin his unit in Lebanon

One of his friends who heard the news said the following: “His love for this land and our people was so high. It was the highest. He was one of the sweetest and most humble people I have ever met. It was impossible to try and give him a compliment without an argument and it was impossible for him to look you in the eye and not say a sweet word. Somehow, it is fitting that he will be buried on Tisha B’av, which is a day of national and religious mourning for the Jewish people It is not just a personal loss. Throughout Israel on Thursday, the day of Michael’s buriel, the nation of Israel will mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and we will mourn for Michael. His death is a national loss”.

The only time that Michael ever showed the smallest bit of worry was when he thought about his family. He often spoke how much he loved his family. His grandfather, a concentration camp survivor was a major source of inspiration for him and he once told said that he would never be able to fill his shoes. He loved his family, and also loved teasing them. Last April Fools Day, he called them, pretending to cry, and said ” mom, dad, I am in the hospital, I broke my leg.” When his parents started booking flights to come over, he said ” April Fools!” He loved to pull pranks like that. This time, there just isn’t anything funny about what happened to yout.

“I’m not telling you my full Hebrew name, for you to pray for me in the synagogue, I do not want anyone to pray for me”, he said to a friend a few months ago after she was asked him his full Hebrew name so that his friend could pray or him since he was about to go on a “mission” which involved some danger. “But he wouldn’t hear of it. ” I do not want anyone to pray for me, if God ants me to die, and that’s his will, then I’ll die, and that’s okay. Whatever God wants. “

“Well then, his friend said, at least try and be careful and try to stay safe”, his friend told him. “He wouldn’t hear of i. ” Naah, that wont get the job done. Don’t worry. Whatever Hashem wants.”

Michael Levine was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for Israel- the people and the land. He would always repeat the words, “whatever is Gods’will, he would say, over and over, as he performed every role that was assigned to him in the Israeli paratroopers unit, with excellence, strength and determination.

I met a friend of Michael’s, tears streaming down her face in a coffee shop on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, kept asking “Why was this God’s will?

Michael Levine will be buried at the Israel Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 3rd, 2006, on the 9th of Av in the Jewish calender.