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Fallen Soldier Mourned in Texas Home Town

Fallen Soldier Mourned in Texas Home Town

South Padre Island native Sean Carmeli described as a ‘gentle, kind boy’

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Sean Carmeli wiith Rabbi Asher Hecht, co-director of Chabad of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas
Sean Carmeli wiith Rabbi Asher Hecht, co-director of Chabad of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas

The Jewish community of South Padre Island, Texas, is mourning the loss of native-born Sgt. Sean Carmeli, one of 13 soldiers from the Golani brigade who died in battle overnight in the Shejaiyah section of Gaza City.

Sean, known in Hebrew as Nissim, was born to Israeli parents—Alon and Dalya Carmeli—who had moved to the island in pursuit of business opportunities. Over time, along with his parents and two sisters, he reconnected with his Jewish roots and began living a Torah lifestyle.

“Sean was a gentle kind boy,” says Rabbi Asher Hecht, co-director of Chabad of the Rio Grande Valley, who met the boy in summer of 2006 when he and a friend ran a day camp for local Jewish children. “He was the oldest of the local boys in our camp, and was a sweet and kind example to everyone else.”

"He was my older brother, my best friend, my everything,” Hecht reports being told by a community youth, who continued to say, “I need Sean now more then ever now.”

The Carmelis were leaders in the religious awakening that took place in the community during the first decade of the millennium. Within a few years, community members constructed a synagogue, hired a rabbi, and almost all of the members of the tight-knit community observe Torah and mitzvot.

Alon Carmeli purchased the community’s first Torah scroll and dedicated the synagogue in memory of his father-in-law, Nissim Buganim, after whom his son was named.

After spending his summers in the Chabad day and overnight camps, Sean’s parents saw that their children were growing up without many Jewish friends and made the decision to move back to Israel, said Hecht. Sean, who held dual U.S and Israeli citizenship, completed high school in Ra’anana and went on to join the army where he served with honor and distinction in the Golani brigade.

Sean Carmeli as a young teen at a Havdalah service at Camp Gan Israel near his home in South Padre Island, Texas.
Sean Carmeli as a young teen at a Havdalah service at Camp Gan Israel near his home in South Padre Island, Texas.

“Just before it was time for him to enter the army, Sean made a decision to spend some time in a yeshivah,” recalled Hecht.

“On a visit to Israel, my wife and I met up with Sean in the Old City in Jerusalem where he was studying, and he told us just how excited and happy he was to be able to dedicate this important time in his life to Torah study, hoping that it would open his horizons and give him the right perspective before starting his army service and influence his life as a proud Jew.”

Hecht relates that when Sean was called up, his superior told him that he did not need to go to the front because of a wound on his foot. Sean, however, insisted on accompanying his comrades into Gaza.

“Our hearts go out to his parents and dear sisters, Gal and Or,” said Hecht. “They lost their only son today, their only brother. The vacuum left by this tragedy will never be filled.

“Sean Carmeli is a hero of the Jewish people,” he continued. “Like Rabbi Akiva and so many others before him, he gave his life to protect the survival of the Jewish people. Sean will never be forgotten.”

Carmeli, left, as a teenager, leading prayers at Camp Gan Israel near his home in South Padre Island, Texas.
Carmeli, left, as a teenager, leading prayers at Camp Gan Israel near his home in South Padre Island, Texas.


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Discussion (4)
July 24, 2014
The tragic passing of Nissim Carmeli
Like all concerned Jews, I am reading and watching on the CNN's of the world re the tragic news of the Middle East War for the umpteenth time! I receive Aish.Com regularly and read about this wonderful young man Nissim, and the great loss to his dear parents Alon and Dalya and other members of his family. Sitting at the bottom of Africa in Johannesburg, there is very little that I can do, but extend deep felt condolences on the passing of a hero in the IDF. Yours sincerely, Barry Jankelowitz
Barry Jankelowitz
JOhannesburg
July 21, 2014
What I hate about it is the survivors guilt that hunt me since the episode of the "Chinese Farm" during the Yom Kippur War that may subsides over the years but never goes away. And the young continue to die.
Pini
July 21, 2014
Deep Sympathy
With Deep Sympathy,

I was touched by the article about beautiful Sean, Nissim. especially when I saw his beautiful face in the photo... he radiated beauty from the inside that almost outshone his handsome good looks on the outside.

May you all be comforted with Divine Help to overcome your grief and know you truly had a Tzaddik for a son, who was also a hero.

Love and blessings,
Kyla
Kyla
July 20, 2014
Remembering Nissim Sean Carmeli.
As the Chazzan for Temple Beth-El , Brownsville, Texas I remember fondly this nice boy which his parents would bring to our small school. May his parents and sisters find comfort among the mourners of Zion.
Henry P. Greenspan
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