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Head of IDF Widows and Orphans Group Remembers Her Love Lost

IDF Widows and orphans Yael with Tami Shelach and Linor Elkayam (Photo: IFCJ)

Tami Shelach, chairperson of the Fellowship-supported IDF Widows and Orphans organization, opens up to writers at the Times of Israel about her grief over losing her husband 43 years ago during the Yom Kippur War. This sadness is why she dedicates so much of her time to help other widows, widowers, and orphans who’ve lost a loved one.

Earlier this year, Shelach took over as head of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, a group that provides material and emotional support to the orphans and widows (and widowers) of fallen soldiers from the IDF, as the name would suggest, but also from every security and defense agency in Israel — the Israel Police, Border Police, Shin Bet security service, Mossad and Israel Prison Service.

It maintains close ties with the Defense Ministry, which supplies approximately 20 percent of its budget, and regularly runs events with Israel’s president, prime minister and army chief of staff.

For instance, a mass bar mitzvah event in Jerusalem for orphans later this month is set to be attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Shelach shares with the Times of Israel what it felt like to hear that her husband had passed:

Both Shelach and her friend were the wives of pilots, so when the head of the air force’s human resource department walked up to the house on October 10, it wasn’t immediately clear who would be receiving the bad news.

“We were sitting on my parents’ porch. The kids were on the playground. We both saw the military car pull up. Each of us thought that it was her husband, coming to visit. But then suddenly the head of human resources came out of the car. We each thought, are they coming to tell her or to tell me?” she said.

“When he turned and looked at me, he didn’t have to say a word.”

Last Thursday, when the Fellowship-supported IDF Widows and Orphans organization sponsored a bar/bat mitzvah celebration for IDF orphans at the Jerusalem Theater, Yael Eckstein attended to share in the joy and celebration (see her pictured above with Shelach)!

Tags: IFCJ

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