May 18, 2024
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In Memory of Coby Burstein z”l

Editor’s Note: Oleh Coby Burstein tragically passed away Sunday in a traffic accident near Ramat Beit Shemesh. Originally from Monsey, Coby, 25, was a 2007 graduate of The Frisch School, and a Lone Soldier in the IDF along with his two brothers Ariel and Oren, who graduated Frisch in 2009 and 2013. Another brother, Chanan, is a current student at Frisch. Coby is also survived by his wife Yael (Citroen), a former SAR Fellow, and his parents, Joel and Susan Burstein. Coby was a member of the Sayeret Givati Brigade.

In this world there are dreams and there are dreamers. But then there are dreamers who don’t let their dreams stay dreams. Last night we tragically lost one such individual, and life will never be the same.

Coby Burstein fulfilled his dream of making aliyah, leaving everything behind to start a new life in the land he loved. He overcame seemingly insurmountable odds and joined the elite reconnaissance unit of the IDF’s Givati Brigade as a lone soldier and combat medic. He did so fearlessly, never settling, always looking ahead, blazing the trail for others to follow. You’re an inspiration to us all, Coby, and you taught us that life is too short not to pursue the things you truly believe in.

I still remember visiting you during my winter break from college in New York when you were in the army; how I told you how jealous I was of you; how you told me, “This is the life I’ve chosen for myself, there’s nothing that can stop you from choosing your life as well.” I’ll never forget that. How could I? How could anyone ever forget you? Your contagious smile. Your amazing sense of humor. Your invaluable advice. Your comprehension and understanding were nonpareil—you saw the world with such clear eyes. How horribly ironic it is that a person whose maturity reached so well beyond his years was taken so well before his time.

There was never a time that you weren’t there for me. Your door was always open, your phone was always on. I remember when you personally came down to the induction center to help me get drafted to Givati. That meant the world to me. I can only hope that these words mean something to all the people whom you meant the world to.

My heart aches for you, Coby. For your parents, brothers, wife and everyone who was lucky enough to have known you.

It’s all so surreal… just three months ago we were dancing at your wedding, celebrating how fortunate you were to have found such an amazing girl, and how lucky she was to have found you. Yet, today I stood at your funeral fighting back tears that wouldn’t stop coming. The world was a better place with you in it, Coby, and now we’re going to have to figure out how to fill a void that cannot possibly be filled.

We had an ongoing tradition to call each other every Friday; to catch-up on the week that was, to share a laugh, talk about life, dating, school, politics, Israel, whatever it was, it was always a pleasure. This week I happened to miss your call and now I wish I could just tell you how you were such an incredible friend, role model, soldier, husband, brother and son. How I miss you so much already.

I just wish I could tell you that one last time.

Meir Fox, from Teaneck, became a lone soldier in Givati after he made aliyah three years ago upon graduating from Queens College. He lives in Tel Aviv.

By Meir Fox

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