Before he left for reserve duty, Amram Ben-Sisu stopped to care for his beloved rose garden one last time. Since his death, his family has been meticulously preserving the blossoming roses. The family of the late Sergeant Shlomo Cohen who fell in the Yom Kippur War likes to keep his accordion close and to remember.
In Moshav Nir Yaffe in Northern Israel, a beautiful rose garden has been blooming for more than 40 years. Before he left for reserve duty on the northern border in 1974, the late Amram Ben-Sisu stopped to care to for his roses. Today, 47 years after his death, his family is still careful to keep his rose garden blooming.
Ben-Sisu had always dreamt of being a farmer and of setting up his own farm in a moshav. Though there was always work to do on the farm, Ben was repeatedly called up for reserve duty. Even though his younger brother Eli fell in the Six Day War, Ben insisted on serving. Shortly before he was called up for what was to be his last reserve duty, Ben-Sisu began building a chicken coop that he hoped to add to the farm.
On February 6, 1974, Ben-Sisu was killed in a clash with terrorists on the Lebanese border. Today, his son Dotan lives and works on his father’s farm and has made sure that his father’s dreams were fulfilled; he finished constructing the chicken coop that his father had begun and he and his family continue to care for Ben-Sisu’s rose garden meticulously.
“I cultivated the roses that my husband planted even after his death,” said his widow Ida. “To this day, we have red, pink, orange and white roses blooming in the garden. The gardeners who worked in the garden over the years recommended that we uproot them but I always insisted on leaving them where they are.”
Almost 47 years have passed since the accordion of the late Shlomo Cohen was played. Now Shai, his 16-year-old grandson, has learned to play some songs on his grandfather’s accordion.
Cohen was drafted into the IDF in 1963. Even before his release, he was appointed secretary of the Tal Shahar moshav, the youngest secretary of a moshav in Israel. He was also a factory manager – all before the age of 30. When the Yom Kippur War broke out, he was drafted into the reserves and sent to the southern front. “Don’t worry,” he wrote in a letter to his family between battles. “Everything will be all right.” On October 19, 1973, Cohen was wounded by shrapnel in the Sinai and died from his wounds.
“They say that time will do its part, that time heals all wounds, that the pain decreases- so they say,” said his daughter Shirley Cohen-Raz. “Life goes on but he, my father, stays 28, young, handsome, with big, kind eyes and a smile that never goes away.”
The accordion was an inseparable part of Cohen’s life. “Everyone who knew him knew that he played the accordion,” said Shirley. “Every Friday, when we were all at home, he would smile, open the suitcase, take out the accordion and would happily play and sing classic Israeli songs. In those moments, the house would be full of light and joy,” she described.
The accordion, which symbolizes Cohen’s joy, is preserved in his family’s home to this day. “Its a memory of joy, which gives us hope and strengthens us in times of sadness,” Shirley explained.
The stories above were published in honor of Yom Hazikaron as part of the “Memories” project- a booklet prepared by and for the widows and orphans of the IDF in which bereaved families wrote letters and stories about their loved ones who fell. “Bereavement takes on different forms in different people,” explained Tami Shelach, the CEO of the organization. “The objects that accompanied the lives of our loved ones preserve and commemorate their image and the moments that we experienced with them, moments that will remain with us forever.”