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The Face of a Hero

The Face of a Hero

Roi Klein
Roi Klein

Roi Klein.

It is a name that until a few days ago held no meaning to me. He was a complete stranger, about whom I had never heard and whom I had never met.

Yet an image of the last seconds of his life won't leave my mind.

Roi was a son. He was a brother. He was a husband to Sara and a father to three-year-old Gilad and one-year-old Yoav.

But most of all, Roi was a hero for all of us. He was a face and a name to the many Jewish heroes spanning the generations.

Roi's funeral was last Thursday (July 27), the day that would have been his 31st birthday.

Major Roi Klein was a Golani brigade deputy commander. He was killed last Wednesday, in an ambush among the houses of Bint Jbail, a large village in southern Lebanon. Hezbullah terrorists killed eight soldiers, including Roi, and injured nearly two dozen.

There were two other soldiers next to Roi. A hand grenade was thrown at them and Roi shouted, "Grenade!" He then threw his body over it, sacrificing his life for the sake of his soldiers, who later attributed being alive to his act of selflessness.

In his last seconds of life, Roi mustered the strength to shout "Shema Yisroel" the prayer that Jews have prayed for centuries, declaring our belief in G‑d and in a better world; the prayer that so many Jewish martyrs throughout the generations called out as they were being led to their deaths.

My mind can't stop conjuring what it must have been like in those last seconds of his life, when Roi made the split-second decision to jump on the grenade. I imagine Roi seeing his beloved family in his mind's eye--his wife, and their two young children who would now grow up knowing him only from stories that they'd be told or from pictures that they'd be shown.

I imagine Roi thinking about his grieving elderly parents; of his mother, Shoshana whose voice cracked at her son's grave as she cried out, "The pain is unbearable... We will look after the children and raise them according to what you left behind…"

And I imagine Roi seeing the West Bank hilltop settlement of Eli that he and his wife idealistically made their home, despite those who wished to dismantle it.

It was for these loved one that Roi served in the special units of the Paratroop and Golani brigades. It was for them, and for the ideals represented by the Shema Yisroel prayer, that Roi diligently and courageously pursued his army service, advancing to the point where he would have been promoted to battalion commander.

What a colossal contrast between Roi and his enemy.

Roi was there to ensure a peaceful existence of his people in their homeland. He was there to safeguard the innocent lives of his children and his nation. To ensure that people could live in their homes in peace and tranquility. To guarantee that they could continue their ordinary day to day activities. Activities like shopping in a mall without being blown to bits, like eating a family meal together in a pizza shop without worrying about flying shrapnel, like praying in a synagogue without having to run for cover in a bomb shelter, or like sending their children on a school bus without thoughts of bullets penetrating within.

Roi was there to defend his people against those that vowed their destruction. Even in his death, he sacrificed his own life to ensure that two of his comrades could live.

I picture his enemy, too, in my mind. He is there to cause as much death, devastation and destruction as he possibly can. He is eager to send his young, strapped with explosive bombs and stuffed with nails on missions of "suicide bombings," as long as in their death they murder as many Jews as possible with them. He is launching rocket after rocket into densely populated Jewish cities so that hospitals healing the sick and homes housing the elderly will be destroyed together with the lives of those inside.

Roi's enemy was willing to die to bring death and mourning to as many as possible; Roi was willing to die to ensure life and liberty for others, to preserve a world in which Jews could pray to G‑d in their synagogues, perform G‑d's commandments and make our world a better, more moral and more conscientious place.

This is the third time in this last century that the Jewish people have found themselves on the front lines against those who sought their annihilation.

For the Nazis, the Jew was a racial impurity to be exterminated like insects. For the Soviet communists, the Jewish religion was a thorn in their sides to be eradicated. And for the Islamic extremists, the Jew and his state must be eliminated from the face of the earth.

Less than a century has passed since Jews fell in the Soviet gulag with the chant of Shema in their mouths for the mere "crime" of observing Kosher or Shabbat in their private lives. Just over a half a century has passed the echo of the Shema resonated in the Nazi gas chambers where Jews were suffocated and then burnt to ashes in the crematoriums just because they were born as Jews.

And now Roi Klein followed in the path of these martyrs, dying with the cry of Shema on his lips in the act of defending his people from those who, yet again, wish to destroy them.

Roi is no stranger after all. He is each of our husbands, sons and brothers. His face is the face of each of our heroes and martyrs.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Discussion (19)
August 16, 2016
Great Jewish hero.
Fort Lee
March 8, 2010
Major Roi Klein and Alleged Angel Encounter
Have any of you ever read the following story about an angel being seen standing over his body.
Real Miracles and Angel Visits

Israeli Colonel Klein had taken a unit of 20 Israeli soldiers into the midst of one of Lebanon's border cities where the fighting was fierce. He led his men into a courtyard that was walled up around believing it provide a place of cover and rest from enemy fire.

Suddenly, someone tossed a hand grenade out of one of the windows above them, and as it hit the ground, Klein threw his body over the hand grenade and cried out shouting: "Schema Yisrael Adoni Elohinu, Adonai Ekhad." Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One!

As he shouted the last words he would ever speak in this holiest of prayers He honored his God. The grenade blew up killing him but sparing all of his soldiers from death. Some were slightly injured from shrapnel but none had life threatening wounds because of Colonel Klein's actions.
Jerry Bush MD
Griffin, GA/USA
August 9, 2009
To Pesach Nussbaum:
"... doublespeak taken from George Orwell's 1984. "

---> Your statement is incorrect. In fact, my concept is anything but doublespeak - true peace and justice will only come when all human beings are treated equally. There are many reasons that 'Israel' is internationally viewed (BBC polls) as the 'nation' having the most negative influence in the world. Jews should REALLY think about this, and change.

One major problem with many pro-'Israel' online contributors is their tendency to make personal attacks against the MANY people who disagree with them. When Zionists can't overturn the arguments of an 'opponent' by rational, logical discussion, too many seem to feel the need to attack that other person. Naturally, this discourages true, meaningful dialogue - as they would understand if they stood in the other person's shoes, and practiced EMPATHY.

Anyway, I will not post any more here.
Sam Bolivar
New York, USA
August 6, 2009
Peace & Justice?
Your concept of peace and justice appears to be a page of doublespeak taken from George Orwell's 1984.
Pesach Nussbaum
Montreal, Canada
July 29, 2009
Oh, and in Israel, as well...
www haaretz com/hasen/spages/1060043 (dot) html
Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement
By Uri Blau
"If Israel is a rogue state then why would you suggest that they purchase a new home for the Klein family? In your view is Klein a hero or a villian - you seem confused."
---> No, I'm not confused at all - Maj. Klein was a participant in illegal acts, but he can't be punished now, and it's unfair for his innocent family to suffer, so they should be cared for by the rogue state of Israel (note I earlier said in a LEGAL residential area). Of course, Israel's leaders should be punished, and Israel should be made to pay reparations to the Lebanese and Gazans they illegally attacked in 2006 and this past New Year's, but that's a bigger issue...

For true peace and justice,
Sam Bolivar
New York, USA
July 29, 2009
Why I'll probably stay away from the Torah (1)

To Pesach Nussbaum:

Thank you for your respectful reply. I used to be a rather devout Christian, and actually helped save the relationship of two Orthodox Jewish friends, when they were on the brink. And I told people that "Jews are God's chosen people". I actually remember saying that!

Then I started reading from Genesis 1:1 ... wow, what an awakening! After its descriptions of genocide (all "ordered by G*d", of course), I honestly had to give up on the Torah tales; I don't want to hate 'Israelites' - and their vengeful, vindictive, bloodthirsty "G*d". I don't like self-centered, self-righteous dogma from any religion, so I think I'll pass on any more of that, thanks.

IMO, what actually happened was:
Israelites massacred a few too many "heathens", felt guilty, then wrote some stuff saying G*d TOLD them to do it. But uh-oh, what about Exodus 20:13? Never mind, it's outnumbered by: Exodus 32:27, Numbers 31, and LOTS more verses - so 'the chosen ones' are covered, right?
Sam Bolivar
New York, USA
July 27, 2009
Rogue State of Israel?
Sam, How about reading a few books starting with the Torah. You will quickly find out that there is nothing whatsoever illegal about Israeli settlement efforts - in fact these efforts are legitimate and worthy of our praise.
As for your logic: If Israel is a rogue state then why would you suggest that they purchase a new home for the Klein family? In your view is Klein a hero or a villian - you seem confused. Might I suggest to you some introspection on these matters could be in order.
Pesach Nussbaum
Montreal, Canada
July 27, 2009
If the Eli 'settlement' violates international
agreements, then it should be torn down. The Palestinians deserve their homes and land, unmolested by the infringements of aggressive Israeli 'settlers', and unthreatened by the rogue state of Israel. However, Israel should pay for a new home (in an area not in violation of any international agreements) for this soldier's family, and for their childrens' education and the family's health care. (But PLEASE don't expect America to pay for anything - we already have homeless veterans, sleeping in our streets - even as we keep sending Israel money. How ironic!


"May G-d avenge his his blood."
---> Um, excuse me? Maj. Klein was a member of an invading army, for crying out loud! I think you'd find it pretty hard to make a case that soldiers who participate in illegal invasions (knowingly or otherwise) deserve to be "avenged"! Please *think* through your comments before posting, OK? Thanks.
Sam Bolivar
New York, USA
July 16, 2009
On Monday, the 13th of July 2009, the Israeli High Court ordered that 11 homes in the Samaria town of Eli be torn down. Among these dwellings is the home of the widow and children of the great hero IDF Major Roi Klein, whose exceptional heroism 3 years ago is described in this article.
The Hayovel neighborhood in which they live received government support and services over the course of more than a decade, but never did receive official authorization.
Klein's final act of bravery led the state to posthumously award him the Medal of Valor, the IDF's highest honor. Klein was the first to be awarded the medal in more than 30 years.
The IDF has scheduled a memorial ceremony in honor of Roi's passing exactly 3 years ago. Ironically, his widow, Sarah, and his children could, chas vesholom, be homeless by that time.
We held his banner high in praise of his selfless Ahavat Yisrael when there was little else we could do. Now Hashem is granting us the opportunity to show that we truly care
Pesach Nussbaum
Montreal, Canada
March 6, 2007
What Rio did was a secrifice to God and man. And the lord Almighty will reward him.

In the scriptures it is written that we should pray for the peace of jerusalem (isreal) they shall prosper who love thee.

My prayers to Isreal is that God should give them peace. And to every one or person that say that Isreal will not live to see peace, God will silent.

Goodness Joseph
Damaturu, Nigeria