Birthright dedicated a memorial site in northern Israel to Max Steinberg, the 24-year-old American who died fighting as an Israel Defense Forces soldier during last summer’s war in Gaza.
The site was established at the ancient synagogue in the Arbel nature reserve in the Lower Galilee, where a ceremony was held Thursday, the organization said. On hand were the late soldier’s family, soldiers he served with and friends from his Birthright-Israel trip, as well as Birthright representatives.
Steinberg, a Southern California native, was killed in July by Hamas explosives while riding in an armored vehicle in Gaza with six other members of the Golani Brigade, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. He had enlisted in the army several months after his Birthright trip, his first ever visit to Israel.
“We know that Max would be so pleased to know that he would be remembered for his sacrifice in this very special place, and this very special way,” said his father, Stuart Steinberg. “But more importantly Max would be so happy to know that his legacy will include helping lone soldiers. Lone soldiers will learn the history and experience the beauty of Israel as participants on the Taglit-Birthright Israel programs.”
Renovation and preservation efforts will take place over the next year to preserve the ruins of the ancient synagogue surrounding the memorial site, making it more accessible for visitors and educational activities.