“Hear from Our Heroes:” Two IDF Reservists Wounded in Gaza Speak at YU

By: Emily Goldberg  |  June 19, 2024

By Emily Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief

As the tragic events of October 7 began to unfold in southern Israel, many immediately stepped up and courageously ran into danger to protect their homeland and rescue the people of Israel. Specifically, Israel Defense Forces reservists dropped everything, leaving their families and lives behind, and rushed to defend the State of Israel. 

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, seven months after the tragic events of Oct. 7, Yeshiva University students had the opportunity to hear from two reservists wounded while fighting for Israel in Gaza. This event was held on YU’s Beren campus in conjunction with Beit Halochem FIDV, an organization that cares for IDF veterans wounded during their service. 

Although finals season was nearing, students trickled into Koch Auditorium and began to fill the seats. Projected in the front of the room was the flier for the event, the silhouette of an IDF soldier looming over the crowd. 

As IDF Sergeant Major Dvir Fisher and Soldier A (whose name has been omitted for security reasons) entered the room, they began chatting happily with those in attendance. Their joy and optimism throughout these hard times was palpable. 

Agam Halperin (SSSB ‘26) spearheaded this event. When Halperin attended the March for Israel rally in Washington, D.C. in November with YU, she met Tzvia Wexler, National Development Director of FIDV Beit Halochem, and the two started chatting. “In that moment, surrounded by Israeli friends and supporters, mere weeks after the tragic events of October 7, I felt an overwhelming drive to contribute in any way possible,” Halperin began in her speech preceding those of the two soldiers. “So, I took her business card.” 

As reflected in the March for Israel rally, the Jewish nation always comes together in times of hardship to support and stand up for our brothers and sisters, no matter what. “I believe many of us can relate to that surge of passion following a significant event, which often fades with time,” Halperin said. “But what I truly admire about our Jewish nation is our unwavering passion and spirit, unaffected by time and adversity.” 

With a yearning to contribute, Halperin reached out to Wexler to learn more about Beit Halochem’s work, and together they planned this event at YU. While speaking to the YU community in attendance, Wexler explained that she visited Beit Halochem many times before accepting her job there. “I actually thank G-d that He gave me this opportunity,” Wexler stated. “I [feel] that they are giving me courage.” 

While introducing the two IDF soldiers who spoke, Halperin stressed how Oct. 7 was life altering for Jews all around the world, especially for Israeli reservists who dropped their lives to rush and defend Israel. “On October 7… many courageously stepped forward to fight for the safe return of hostages and to defend our homeland,” she continued. The stories shared by these soldiers are just two of the many courageous accounts of reservists who continue to risk their lives to fight for our country. 

During his service, which he completed two years ago, Fisher served in the Paratroopers Brigade of the IDF. On Oct. 7, Fisher was at a festival in Nepal without any electronics or service. On Oct. 8, Fisher learned that there had been a terrorist attack in southern Israel and immediately went to find reception. Turning on his phone, he was exposed to the horrors of what had happened in Israel just the day before; Israeli civilians murdered, missing, and kidnapped into the Gaza strip by Hamas terrorists. 

“I saw the headline… ‘Israel is at war,’” Fisher explained. “We saw what it is to live without a country, even for a few hours, but still.” 

The tragedies of Oct. 7 instantly reminded Fisher of the Holocaust. After thinking about his family members who survived the Holocaust, he knew he had to return to Israel and fight for his country. “I can’t just stay here and continue my life like everything is normal,” Fisher thought. “I had to go and fight for my country, because this time it’s not the Holocaust. We have an army, which was invented to prevent those things from happening.” 

Once he got back to Israel, Fisher was drafted to the IDF and trained before he entered Gaza at the end of October. To distract himself from the fear of going into Gaza, Fisher memorized and recited the names of his family members and friends, to remind himself of who he was fighting for. 

On Nov. 8, Fisher was completing a mission with his unit on what he described as “another casual day in Gaza.” He stressed that in Gaza, soldiers face constant threats from terrorists and never know when a danger might arise or something might happen to them.  

Running between houses, he heard shots fired at him but they did not hit him. As he was entering a house, he felt a sudden bang and excruciating pain in his upper body and collapsed, knowing that he had been hit in the neck. A doctor came to treat him as he tried to remain conscious. Fisher was then transported to the Erez crossing and woke up ten hours later in the hospital to his family surrounding him. 

Fisher explained that he was extremely lucky that the bullets did not hit any of his main arteries. “They told me the chances are one to a billion or more,” Fisher said. Fisher remained in the hospital for one week and now does physical therapy, among other activities such as swimming and exercise, at Beit Halochem. “It’s just people like me who have been injured in war or other things, but it takes a community to bring someone back to normal life, and that Beit Halochem really does,” Fisher said.  

After Fisher finished relaying his story, the second soldier began to speak. On Oct. 7, he was davening in shul when he heard about the tragedies that were occurring in southern Israel. Immediately, he grabbed his equipment and headed straight to Be’eri. “We saw a lot of visions that no one could imagine,” he said. He described seeing breakfast still on the table in many of the homes as the families laid dead on the kitchen floor. 

As he was rescuing people from their homes, he was wounded while fighting for Israel, and described how “Hashem heard [his] voice” when a van came to rescue him and brought him to get medical attention. In that moment, he realized how dependent we as humans are on G-d. “It means that I don’t have anything except Hashem.” 

“It’s complicated because I don’t feel like a hero because I do what I need to do because of Am Yisrael,” he continued. For this soldier, every Jewish person has a purpose in their life, and by going to help people on Oct. 7, he was simply striving to complete his own. “Every Jew in this world has a mission and we do it the best we know how to do it,” he said. Speaking to those in attendance, he emphasized, “You are also fighting the fight of the Jewish people… All of Am Yisrael is a hero.”

Now, this soldier goes to Beit Halochem as part of his recovery and plays basketball with a team of soldiers who were also wounded in the war. 

Running this event at YU was extremely important for Halperin. “I think it was meaningful for me to run this event because I have always felt very connected to the IDF,” Halperin told the YU Observer. “I think this event gave us a perspective we don’t get to hear from often, that from wounded soldiers who sacrificed a ‘normal’ life, to protect us and our homeland. I am so happy we were able to hear from our heroes and honor them.” 

YU students were extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to hear from these soldiers and continue to learn about the bravery of those who put their lives at risk to keep Israel, our homeland, safe. “It was very emotional to hear from soldiers themselves their firsthand experiences fighting for the Jewish people,” Allison Warren (SCW ‘25) told the YU Observer. “The love and commitment they have for Am Yisrael was deeply inspiring. I was very appreciative to meet them and have the opportunity to thank them in person for their service.”

Fisher is hopeful that sharing his story will bring hope during these dark times. Especially for us in the diaspora who are physically far away from Israel, it was extremely impactful to hear firsthand from these soldiers and to continue to bear witness to the atrocities of Oct. 7. 

“I feel we don’t get to hear enough good news in [these] times. We just hear about war, young good people, dead, in this horrible war,” Fisher stated. “I hope my story gave you some hope, because it’s something we really need,” he continued. 

“I hope I spread some light.”