This next article is so very typical of Israel, even though one of the main people in the story, doesn’t even live here. It’s the story of two cousins, separated by a great distance and even by a relatively large age gap. Noam Meyerson was 23 years old when he was killed in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War. I attended his funeral with a friend, watching from the distance as his family mourned him. I’d worked briefly with his father, exchanged some emails, met at some common events in our community of technical writers. I was not connected enough with the family to feel comfortable intruding on their time of grief and yet I could not ignore his passing and so, like thousands of others, I stood and mourned beside his grave to pay my respects.
Often, Israelis take their grief and produce something meaningful out of it, some means of maintaining what they have lost by creating something good. This is what a young girl, a cousin of Noam’s, has done. In Israel, we say “Kol HaKavod” – all honor, to Katie for caring enough to remember, and being dedicated enough to persist.
According to YNET:
Two years after losing her beloved cousin to a Lebanese tank missile, Katie Meyerson decides to build commemorative playground in Kiryat Shmona, funded only by money from Bat Mitzvah, toy sales
by: David Regev
13-year-old Katie from New York had a soft spot in her heart for her cousin Noam from Israel: But this great love was brutally cut short when Noam was killed by a Hizbullah missile during the Second Lebanon War. His beloved cousin Katie decided to commemorate him by building a playground in his name in Kiryat Shmona.
This is the story of an amazing friendship between two cousins: Katie Meyerson living in New York with her mother Sandy, and her 23-year-old cousin Noam Meyerson from Jerusalem. Sandy is the sister of Noam’s father Haim.
“Katie used to visit Israel once a year and Noam would take her on trips and spend time with her,” a family member said. “They had a very close relationship despite the age difference.”
During the Second Lebanon War, Noam was called in for reserve duty, and joined a tank squadron uniting with a paratroopers’ force near the village of Bint Jbeil. An anti-tank missile hit the main tank leading the force, instantly killing Noam and squadron commander Yotam Lotan.
The news of Noam’s death broke Katie’s heart. In her sadness and pain, Katie decided to honor her cousin and the special bond they shared.
“At first I built a website in his memory,” Katie said. “After that, I decided to build a playground in his name, and to locate it in one of the country’s northern cities that have been hurt by Hizbullah’s missiles. I chose Kiryat Shmona for this.”
Katie began raising funds for the project. She sold teddy bears and T-shirts on the internet bearing the slogan: “Make Games Not War.” She also sent e-mails to her friends, asking them to donate money in Noam’s memory.
‘He would have been happy’
Even Katie’s Bat Mitzvah was dedicated to her new initiative, and she asked her relatives for money instead of gifts. The response was rewarding, and soon Katie had raised $10,000.
She also approached the Jewish Agency, which joined in the project and contacted the Kiryat Shmona Municipality, which in turn agreed to build the playground in town.
Katie and her mother Sandy arrived in Israel Tuesday night to participate in the playground’s cornerstone ceremony. “Noam was only 23 when a Hizbullah missile took away his smile. Had he been alive today, he would have been happy to see us building a playground in a city that has suffered from missile attacks,” Katie said.
Noam’s family members have also taken the initiative to commemorate him. “Noam loved nature. That’s why we chose to build a center for Jewish and environmental studies in the Mitzpe Ramon Educational Center. The new center will be named Darchei Noam and will aim to teach Judaism through observing nature,” said Noam’s mother Gila.