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Benji's Mother's Eulogy at His Funeral

Benji, you were a mensch first and foremost

From your earliest days, you cared for others, welcoming and helping to seat a disabled classmate each day in kindergarten, or desperately not wanting to fight a close friend in a karate championship final lest you should upset him. You cared for your frail grandparents with respect and dignity.
You were thoughtful of others and their needs and this led you to be so very generous and charitable, even sharing your barmitzvah presents with others and giving monthly contributions to Holocaust victims.

You were ever conscious of soldiers' needs, helping them in big and little ways but always protecting their self-respect.
Your love for sports, be it tennis, running, water sports or your beloved CrossFit, focused your endless energy, building you up and honing your self-discipline: and yes, together with your stunning good looks, it made you a candidate to play the next James Bond.
Benji, you were a mischievous prankster, just ask your beautiful fiancée Rotem, who you tortured with misinformation, terrifying her prior to meeting me. No, Rotem, don't call me Elizabeth, only Liz.
You had a ferocious appetite for life and food. Your capacity for both knew no bounds as you savored every moment, every morsel.
You loved family and friends both those in the UK and those here in Israel. You charmed a family in the US when you represented the IDF and developed a lasting bond - they are due to make their first visit to Israel in December due to your influence.
And now to your main raison d'etre: family and country. Your love of both, your desire to protect them at all costs, were simply the expression of your strong moral compass, your sense of community and commitment to a Jewish homeland. For this you gave your life.
Benji, thank you for giving me the privilege and opportunity of being your mother.

Benchuk, I love you forever. 

At his 30-day memorial service

Benchuk, there are some things I need you to know

I need you to know that the last month has been a rollercoaster of emotions for your family and friends. We have gone from despair, grief and real pain to pride, laughter and love for you.

I need you to know the number of strangers who have been so deeply affected by your story that they have enveloped us with their love and admiration.

I need you to know that those who fought alongside you, and those you rescued, on that fateful day in Be'eri, all describe you on that day as selfless, brave, calming, confident, warm and caring even under endless enemy fire, the horrors and chaos around you.

I need you to know that the more than eighty citizens saved will be so many more as future generations will be the evidence and testament to your bravery and your mission to protect your family, your country.

I need you to know that two artists, unknown to both you and me, were so inspired by you that they created two outstanding portraits, each capturing your very essence, your very deep blue eyes, your empathy, your soul.

I need you to know how many of your army comrades and officers, from drivers to machat, praised you, your professionalism, your support, your fairness, your ideas, your idealism.

I need you to know that the most common phrase voiced by countless men and women who were among the two thousand who visited during the shiva was "Benji changed my life". You were a role model for calm, thoughtful leadership, caring for the individual, building confidence and developing skills and, above all, showing each one that he himself can make a difference.

I need you to know that we're taking good care of Rotem whom we dearly love and adore.

I need you to know that your love for Rotem has brought her family close to ours as our friendship has grown and our connection will be everlasting.

I need you to know that your friends have been and continue to be the most loving, fabulous band of brothers - and that they remain loyal to all you held dear and important. They bring Sharoni and me closer to you as we learn of your friendships, your selflessness as a friend and your infamous and wicked sense of humor.

I need you to know that, yes, I found out to my surprise that you smoked. Enough said.

I need you to know that our circle of life continues as we expect the impending birth of your nephew who will learn of his uncle's heroism but, even more importantly, of his values and principles as a man, as a Jew.

I need you to know that there are so many ways you, your attributes, achievements and beliefs will be commemorated, ensuring that your legacy, your passions and "Benji's way" will be reflected in years to come.

I need you to know that your strength has been passed on to us and inspires us and allows us to put one step in front of the other as we continue with our lives without your being present, here. But then again, you are with us in our hearts, minds and memories, guiding us through these difficult times.

I need you to know how I miss and love you, how I thank you for teaching me so much both in your life and death. As I said thirty days ago, thank you for the privilege of being your mother, as I now appreciate that my job will continue as I will dedicate my energies to maintaining your legacy, דרכו של בנג׳י.

I need you to know that there is so much more that needs to be said, but I guess you know that. We will share more as time moves on. 

Major Benji Trakeniski with his sister, Sharon and mother, Liz


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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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