Uriel Liwerant z”l was part of the Hesder program at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush). Many of the MTA guys from recent years were close to him and will miss him dearly. May his memory be blessed.
A Pat On The Back- Remembering Sgt. Uriel Peretz Liwerant
Change is not easy. You probably can identify with me when I say that there is a knot of uneasiness inside of you when you moved to a new school or a different area. I felt that knot when I joined the Israeli Hesder program at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush). On Lag Ba’Omer two years ago, I headed sheepishly to a bonfire that the Israeli guys in my year had made. I say sheepishly because I didn’t really know the “chevrah” that I was about to spend the next five years with. It was on that stroll to the bonfire that I first felt Uriel’s warm hand give me a pat on the back. I would later learn discover that this pat on the back was not once off, but rather Uriel’s conventional tender greeting. He inquired who I was and immediately said, “I’m Uriel and I’m also in shiur alef (first year), come with me to the bonfire.” I followed, and because of that small introduction, I went to the bonfire feeling very much at home.
From then, Uriel was a character – in his incredibly humble and pure way – that stood out in Yeshiva. He always (and I’m not exaggerating) smiled. During lunch breaks he was filled with excitement when there was a Frisbee or soccer match. Uriel was a serious learner and during learning sessions he was fixed to his seat, enjoying the depth of Dvar Hashem. Yet, again, what most sticks out is the warm pat on the back. After learning together for two years, the boys in our class left the Sanctuary of Torah for a new experience – the army.
On our last night in the Yeshiva we celebrated our achievements of the last two years. We were assigned to various positions in different units and thus would go separate ways for the next 16 months. We departed from each other with the conventional blessing for going on a journey – “Go in peace and return in peace”. Uriel won’t return.
As an achiever in the army, Uriel was appointed a tank commander. I wasn’t with him in the army, so it’s hard to imagine the warm hand that gave me a pat on the back as a professional bold soldier. Yet, his fellow troops say he was just that and moreover, he never lost his affable nature or his commitment to Torah. I think two of the biggest challenges for religious soldiers are to find energy to learn Torah and to remember to remain menchs in a pressured environment. Uriel succeeded.
This last Wednesday morning the world changed. For a while, it felt like it even stopped. I received a phone call from a friend in Yeshiva – “Greg, did you hear what happened? Uriel is dead…” During a training drill, Sgt. Uriel Peretz Liwerant’s tank flipped over. He was flung out and the tank landed on him. Amazingly, he still managed to warn his troops to shelter themselves and thus displayed his true commitment even at the last second of his life.
Uriel, I guess we won’t feel your warm hand pass by and give us a pat on the back anymore. Rav Amichai said that the pain we are experiencing is o.k. because it means we feel the void of goodness that now exists. I guess the only thing we can do is “to give you a warm pat on the back” for who you were and to commit to continue your astonishing attributes. We will learn to the best of our ability. We’ll smile. We’ll look out for people who need a hand. We’ll give each other warm pats on the back.
Uriel Liwerant z”l was part of the Hesder program aaaaaat Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush). Many of the MTA guys from recent years were close to him and will miss him dearly. May his memory be blessed.
Dear Aaron, Joni and family,
I remember the morning not so long ago when a friend phoned me and in a low depressing voice he said to me, did you hear Uriel died last night. At that moment everything came crashing down, I could not believe what I just heard. I was hoping it was a bad dream, but unfortunately it was not. Memories started flashing through my head about my friend who I will never see again.
Uriel was my closest Israeli friend. I was lucky enough to have a chavrusa (learning partner) with him and would learn the Kli Yakur on the parsha every week. Uriel distilled in me a true love for learning the Kli Yakar and still today I continue learning it, this all due to Uriel.
Uriel was one of us! He was passionate about his football and every Thursday night he was at the football court without fail. We loved playing with him not just because he was an outstanding player, but more so because he showed such love to everyone on the field.
My memories of spending the most beautiful shabbos at your home where Uriel gave up his bed and room for me and my friend without hesitation and your whole family treated us with such real and true “hachnasas orchim”. It was an honour to see and feel.
When I was in Israel now in July, my uncle Jacki phoned me and said, “when you come to us this shabbos we have a special surprise for you” and then when shabbos lunch arrived, there was Uriel! He was my surprise! It was so special to see him again and when we said goodby he gave me a hug and said “Alon, bezrat hashem I will see you again soon”.
I sadly realize that I will never have the opportunity again to be greeted by Uriel with his HUGE smile and say good bye to him followed by a hug.
Uriel had a special soul and his friendship will be deeply missed.
Dear Aharon, Joni and family
Uriel zt”l – a son, grandson, brother, friend and role-model to us all.
Thinking back on Uriel, I cannot help but remember his smile etched onto my memory. Never did a complaint or negative comment leave Uriel’s mouth; rather, words of Torah, laughter, encouragement and positivity. In Yeshiva, he would go around doing his own thing quietly, in the humble manner that Uriel led his life. “A fence to wisdom is silence”(Avot 3.17). The Rambam intended this statement for people like your son! Although I did not have the privilege of learning Torah formally with him, I certainly learned how a ben Torah should conduct his behaviour and way of life. Speaking to others and hearing what they say of him, I could only get the sense that in his Limudim (studies) too, he was a “modest genius”.
Uriel, whether it was in the Beit Midrash(study hall), on the soccer-court, or in the army, was a leader. He was always guiding his peers, fellow teammates and soldiers constantly, in the regular modest and silent manner. How did he achieve so much in a mere 21 years!? Seeing Uriel wrapped so honourably in an Israeli flag on his last journey from Efrat to Har Hertzl, followed by a string of cars, testifies to his, your son’s greatness and purity which he accomplished.
Having read what Mr. Liwerant hoped “…that if people know more about who Uriel was, what kind of person he was, this will be a big Kiddush Hashem,” I can testify that it was.
Since I cannot tell Uriel in person, I would like to extend gratitude to you, his parents, of my friendship that I had with your son.
May Hashem comfort you with the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Ilan Shapiro, South Africa
Dear Aharon and Joni
I would like to tell you the following story that took place my first Erev Shabbat in Yeshiva. I was extremely nervous/anxious and never knew what to expect from the whole Yeshiva experience in general. To add to this anxiety I lost my white kippa with 5 minutes to go before Mincha. I was agitated. Then Uriel walked in just to check how I was doing. He noticed that I was upset/angry and asked why. I explained that I had lost my kippa to which he responded, “Don’t worry, we will look for it, it’s forbidden to be upset for this”. Sure enough he found the kippa and we both made it to Mincha on time. I was now calm and re-assured that I had people that I could rely on in Yeshiva. This is just the tip of the iceberg to the lengths of selfless chesed (kindness) Uriel was willing to do for others.
I think I speak for the whole MTA when I say Uriel will be sorely missed, especially in our Thursday night soccer games of which Uriel was a regular participant.
To Uriel’s Family:
My name is Josh Sevitz. I am currently in my shana bet (2nd year) at Gush. I became friendly with Uriel through the same means as most South Africans and Australians do – Football. At first I assumed he was like any other Israeli and I did not have much interaction with Uriel. But then as I started playing Thursday night football, I started to get to know him. First, we were just friends on the soccer/football court, but then ourfriendship spread to the Beis Midrash (Study Hall), the cheder ochel (Dining Room) and general Yeshiva life.
I remember one night after Thusday night football, it was about 1:30 in the morning and myself and Uriel were chatting and relaxing outside my dorm. It was nearing the time for Uriel to be heading off to the army and I asked Uriel what his family thought of the army. He said there was not much to think about and that its an obligation for any Israeli, and then Uriel told me that his family originated from America and I was shocked as he was so Israeli (in a positive sense).
When Uriel left for the army, I can honestly say that the entire South African crowd at the Yeshiva was saddened by his going to the army, more so then most others, not because we were short of good football players, but rather as Uriel had managed in the short time with us shana Alephs (1st year students) got to know him, and had already made a huge impact on us both on and off the football court.
I would like to with Uriel’s entire family comfort in your hard times and to know that Uriel made a massive impact on me on how I looked at Israelis, Torah, and Yeshiva life, and for that, I will always remember him.
Dear Aharon and Joni
I was deeply saddened upon the hearing of Uriel’s passing, and I send your family my condolences.
I got to know Uriel from playing soccer with him every week. He truly was one of the most friendly and welcoming students at the Yeshiva, and he certainly made my year there a lot more comfortable. He truly was a gentleman.
Any person coming to a place like the Gush feels the discomfort of trying to fit in or even trying to relate to something so grand. For every chutznik (overseas student) – it is a challenge and one that can make or break one’s years in Yeshiva.
Uriel was a man who was that – that grand, on that level – but had the beautiful ability to bridge our gap. Even though he was scores above us, he never showed it. Every man was his equal and each one deserved his attention and love.
My wish is that you will be comforted in the knowledge of the countless lives he managed to uplift on a daily basis. His personal example and love will live on for many years to come in the many people that had the privilege to connect with him.
Uriel was an incredibly nice guy who always had a smile on his face. It was just nice to be around him and I’m still shocked about the fact that on my next visit to Yeshiva I won’t meet him again. I played soccer with Uriel almost every Thursday night while I was in Yeshiva, that’s how I got to know him. I miss him very much and I will never forget him. May Hashem comfort you with the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
To Uriel’s parents
One cannot begin to imagine what you must be going through following Uriel’s tragic passing. I met Uriel when I came to Yeshivat Har Etzion. In a large Yeshiva with talmidim (students) from all over the world, where all too often people stick to their own, Uriel would connect to everyone. In his soft-spoken manner he would draw people in. He will be sorely missed in the beit midrash( Study Hall).
May Hashem comfort you with the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.