A Los Angeles memorial for Max Steinberg, the 24-year-old IDF soldier from Southern California who was killed last month in Gaza, drew a crowd of 1,000 as family, friends, and strangers gathered to honor the lone soldier, who had moved to Israel two years earlier. Steinberg was killed during the second week of Operation Protective Edge in July, when his unit, the Golani Brigade, exchanged heavy fire with Hamas gunmen in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya. The confrontation led to 13 Golani casualties, a major blow for the IDF and to the Israeli public.
Steinberg’s funeral in Jerusalem drew 35,000 people, many of whom were moved by his personal story: He went on Birthright in 2012, made aliyah one year later and joined the IDF.
His parents, whose first visit to Israel was for their son’s funeral, spoke at the LA memorial, JTA reports.
“Nothing can duplicate the love showered on our family by the people of Israel,” Steinberg’s mother, Evie, said at the memorial service, according to the Times of Israel. “We have no regrets that Max made the choice to enlist in the IDF. Max was a Golani, a trained, expert sharpshooter, and was determined to fulfill his service. On the way, Max found his inner peace.”
According to the Times of Israel, while the ceremony at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills was warm and moving, the reality of the ongoing Gaza conflict—and the rash of international anti-Semitic incidents—loomed large. “Dozens of police flanked the theater on busy Wilshire Boulevard and metal detectors and security guards greeted attendees.,” the website reported.