Family, History, Life, Parenting

A war hero, undercover cop, entrepreneur and foster parent: My dad, my hero!

My dad heard a loud noise, he could smell something burning and his tank began to shake. He felt a ton of pressure, like someone was holding him paralyzed against the tank’s wall. Parts of the tank starting crashing into his face and body and suddenly it become eerily quiet.


Growing up I’ve always admired my dad. He has managed to experience some of the most life-changing experiences, filled with ups and downs, and through it all, he has always maintained a positive attitude with a smile on his face. He’s one of the most generous people I know, with a heart the size of Niagara Falls (both the U.S. and Canada sides combined). My dad’s life story, although nowhere near the end, is so amazing and inspiring, I wanted to share it with the world. I couldn’t be prouder of my dad, his accomplishments, and positive outlook on life. I believe we can all learn to live each day to the fullest after hearing his story.

Being born in Jerusalem, Israel, my dad was drafted to the army, like everyone else, when he was 18 1/2 years old. He joined the Armour unit and began three months of general studies before beginning more intensive training. For two months, he studies with the combat unit and learned everything about the M48 Patton tanks. He was specializing as the gunner of his tank unit but he was still trained in all other areas including; ammunition, driving, computer use and tank maintenance. In total, he had seven months of training before being deployed in Egypt.

The war of Attrition, which started in 1968, was still ongoing when my dad was placed in combat. My dad’s Company was stationed in the central line on the El Ferdan Railway Bridge. His mission was broken down into day and night. During the day, he was to patrol the area to ensure that the road was clear of enemies and mines. At night, their mission was to get close to the canal and ambush any predators that cross the line. His entire unit would be awake until midnight at which point they started rotation until 4am. If you do the quick math in your head, that means that they only slept for three hours every 24 hour period!!

Speaking to my dad, he revealed that this was such an exciting time for him. He was not scared to be in the combat /armour unit. Like a little kid, he loved “playing” with guns. To him, this was the best place he could be. It was fun and exhilarating. He never feared or thought that the worst was yet to come…

On August 10th, 1970, my dad’s Platon started their patrol as they had for the past two and a half months. Suddenly, they received very heavy shelling from the Egyptian side. The Commander ordered the driver to get off the road in order to obtain a better position to identify where the shelling was coming from. When they got off the road, they hit a road-side charge. (It was later determined that the tank mine was place there by the Egyptian commander the night before as they were clearly aware of my dad’s Unit’s routine.)

My dad heard a loud noise, he could smell something burning and his tank began to shake. He felt a ton of pressure, like someone was holding him paralyzed against the tank’s wall. Parts of the tank starting crashing into his face and body and suddenly it become eerily quiet.  My dad eventually opened one of his eyes and saw that there was no one else in the tank with him. As he tried to exit, he heard his crew scream for him. He yelled back saying that he couldn’t see them while they continued to shout his name. My dad somehow single-handedly exited the tank and made his way to his unit, who were hiding from the enemy shelling. The Commander asked my dad how he felt, and he said that overall, he felt okay, except he had some pain on his face. The paramedics were called over and my dad laid on the ground, holding a gauze to his face, for three hours, while the enemy continued to shell them. Meanwhile, headquarters sent a Doctor over to see him. The Doctor immediately opened my dad’s eyes and noticed that he had glass and iron shards. They decided to call in a helicopter to take him to the hospital.

Unknown to my dad, a documentary film crew was on hand that day and captured my dad being carried away on a stretcher and receiving treatment while on the helicopter. However, my dad did not find out about this footage until almost 30 years later. He thinks it’s pretty cool!! Here’s the clip of my dad:

While lying conscience in the helicopter, my dad received first aid treatment and was taken to a hospital that specializes in wounded soldiers. In the hospital, they asked my dad several questions to see what damage (if any) was done to his brain. One of the answers that caught them off-guard was when they asked my dad when the last time he ate was, and he said “yesterday”. Turns out, his brain was working; the Doctors just couldn’t believe it! The next thing my dad remembers is being rushed to the Operating Room and waking up the next day with both of his eyes covered in bandages. It wasn’t until later on in the afternoon that my dad would learn his true faith. The Doctor removed his bandages and told him that he lost sight in his left eye. Later that night, my dad heard a very distinctive voice in the hospital hallways. It was the voice of his father yelling at one of the nurses who had refused to take him in to see my dad because it was after visiting hours. Apparently, my grandfather’s biggest worry was my dad losing his ability to walk. He kept on touching my dad’s legs to see if he could feel his touch.  Being Polish, my  grandfather didn’t “believe” my dad so he kept checking the condition of his legs for the entire two months my dad was at this hospital. After two more operations, my dad was officially discharged from the army… but only temporarily. A few years later, the army conducted a review and decided to put my dad back in as a reserve officer. And get this… my dad didn’t mind.

My dad met my mom when he was in the hospital recovering
My dad met my mom when he was in the hospital recovering

When I asked my dad about losing his eye sight, he said that the hardest part was adjusting his movements and actions. It was hard to estimate distance (he would short-shoot in basketball) and see past his shoulder (he would often bump into people walking down the street beside him). It took him a year to adjust to the difference and now, he is used to seeing from only one eye.

In college, my dad studied civic engineering and spent his days working for the government as a building project manager. Five years after his army experience, while married with his first child (my older brother) and working full-time, my dad decided to volunteer as a civil guard once a week. This was a period where there was a lot of daily bombings all over Israel, and the government was looking for help. Eventually, the police scooped him up and my dad found himself in the detective unit volunteering one night a week dealing with daily crimes such as theft, drugs and illegal weapons. My dad was sent on various undercover missions, pretending to be one of the criminals. After a year, he was transferred to the minority dealings unit. On one of his missions, he went with his partners to the house of a well-known drug-dealer. A party was going-on there at the time, and suddenly, my dad and his partners were jumped and a fight broke out. It was my dad and his two partners against twenty or so people. They were punched and their guns were almost stolen from them. Eventually, one of my dad’s partners was able to get a hold of their gun and shoot it in the air. Everyone at the party started to disperse and that’s when they were finally able to call for backup. My mom also recalled a story where one night, my dad had some “interesting” looking men over at their house while me and my brothers slept away. My mom had to bring my dad to the side to find out for certain if those men were also undercover cops or if they were criminals. My dad had a good laugh about that one! My father kept volunteering his services for five years, until he decided to move his family to Canada.

My family a few months before we moved to Canada
My family a few months before we moved to Canada

One of my parents’ decision to move, among many, was seeking an easier life for me and my brothers.  They decided to pack up their home, all of their belongings, leave their jobs, family and friends and move us half-way across the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sooooooo grateful that they did that, but I can’t believe that they did it. They were around the same age my husband and I are now, and I can’t imagine moving to a different province, let alone, a different country, across the ocean, with not one, but THREE kids! I am forever grateful to my parents for providing me with the opportunities that presented themselves to me in this great country. Of course, my love for Israel has always remained, and I will forever cherish it and the eight-years of memories that I had there.

My husband and I in the Dead Sea, Israel
My husband and I in the Dead Sea, Israel

My parents’ move to a new country was not an easy one. My dad had to search for a new CAREER and after years of working for someone else, my dad decided to open up his own business. Unfortunately, he opened up a photo-developing shop, a few years shy of digital photography entering the mass market. My dad eventually landed what I now know is THE job that was made for him. My parents became foster parents, taking care of children in their home.  While most adults can’t wait to have their alone-time and to enjoy their empty nest, my parents decided to bring in more young kids. Yes, my dad was an amazing father to us growing up, but I have to say, he’s an even better foster dad. He spoils and loves these kids so much. He has made it his life mission to take care of them. They truly have no idea how lucky they are to have him (and my mom) as their foster parent.

Most recently, my dad’s darkest day occurred when my mom had her stroke. He witnessed her having it, drove his car behind the ambulance and slept next to her bed at the hospital until she “recovered” (thankfully) the next day. After almost 36 years of marriage (and 40 years of being together), this was a true testament of my dad’s love for my mom. He was so worried and relieved when she was able to talk to him again the following day. He’s always stood by my mom’s side, and it was no more evident than on that terrible day, that will forever change their (and the rest of my family’s) lives.

My dad’s zest for life is like no other. Of course, his greatest “accomplishment” are his  five (one only a day old) grandchildren. They make his life go round and make everything that he’s gone through worth-living. I’m so proud of my dad, and humbled by his life experience. I can only hope that I’ve made him proud as he has inspired me. Here’s to my dad and all other amazing fathers out there who inspire their daughters, sons and everyone else around them!

If your dad is your hero, please leave a comment and let me know 🙂

8 thoughts on “A war hero, undercover cop, entrepreneur and foster parent: My dad, my hero!”

  1. It seems to me you inherited your dad’s spirit and generosity and found the same great father qualities in your husband. Kyle is lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful role models.

    1. awwwwww! That’s super sweet Judd. Thanks for the comment. You’re an amazing father yourself. Your kids are amazing kids, due to their amazing parents! You guys keep doing what you’re doing and give us some tips along the way…

  2. Oh Maya, thank you for sharing this beautiful story! Your dad has definitely lived many lives, no wonder he is your hero!

  3. Maya, this is a great story, thank you for sharing it with the world!
    If I didn’t know Reuven, I think he sounded too good to be true. Luckily, I’ve had the privilege to be a part of your parents’ lives 🙂

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