In the summer of 1974, nine months after the end of the Yom Kippur War, I met the man who became my husband. When the war broke, he was already on vacation, just before his release from the army. Since he was a combat medic, he knew that he was needed in the war and kept on trying to enlist. But was told, "We don't need you; we are winning the war."
Eventually, he too was called to the front, however, by then the heavy fighting was over. My husband was lucky; other men his age had a very different experience. Five students from his year (the class of 1970) in Boyer high school in Jerusalem were killed.
Among them was David Moskowitz, a good friend of my husband, and his name was mentioned often especially in the first years after the war. I remember my husband saying that he'd gotten married during his army service, and hadn't kept in touch.
Only recently I heard that shortly after he was killed, in May 1974, his wife had a baby daughter. At the age of 40, that daughter embarked on a journey to discover the father she never got to meet. Toward that end, she interviewed several of his friends, and last Saturday, a group of school friends from Boyer gathered around to watch the film that she had produced. The film: “Tal Is Looking for Dad” records her search and reveals the circumstances surrounding her father's death on October 8th.
Tal interviewed family members and friends, and through photos and interviews managed to create a vibrant picture of her young father. The film follows him from the time he was a young boy until his army service at the Armored Warfare. David immigrated to Israel from Czechoslovakia in 1960, with his mother and his sister. His parents were Holocaust survivors, and his father died when he was only 32, on the day of David’s 5th birthday.
They settled in a tiny apartment in Ir Ganim, a very modest new-immigrants neighborhood of Jerusalem. David was an inquisitive youth. He loved photography, math and playing the guitar. Most of his friends were new immigrants like him, who lived in apartments very similar to his.
The second part of the film is about the war. Tal was able to find the driver of her father's tank who told her about his last hours. She thanked him for staying alive so that he could tell her his story. It gave me goose bumps.
At the memorial service for the soldiers of the Armored Warfare in 2013, it was Tal who gave the speech. She said, "My father wasn’t there when I was born. He didn't hold my hand on the first day of first grade, didn’t shed a tear in the army recruiting office, and didn’t give me away at my wedding. He gave me life. Today, I know that he gave his, surrounded by the best people."
David Moskowitz and his friends from school and the neighborhood were typical new immigrants, they were good students and worked hard in order to get ahead. He would have gone far, but, from what I saw in the film, David managed to make the most of his 22 short years. When he was in the eleventh grade he and a friend had a photography business. Moreover, he fell in love, got married, moved to a kibbutz and knew that he and his wife were going to have a baby.
I regret not asking my husband to meet David's family. I have no explanation why we didn't, apart for the fact that we were young, confused, and even scared. Today, I realize that we had been suffering from trauma.
The screening of the film happened two days after Holocaust Memorial Day, and on the way out, my partner commented that, even more than the Holocaust, the narrative of our generation is the Yom Kippur War. Its trauma has gone on to affect the next generation as well. It explains a lot about our life.