Those We Have Lost

Col. Jonathan Steinberg, 42: Commander and consummate family man

Nahal Brigade commander killed fighting Hamas terrorists near Kerem Shalom, October 7

Col. Jonathan Steinberg, the commander of the Nahal Brigade who was killed on October 7, 2023, in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)
Col. Jonathan Steinberg, the commander of the Nahal Brigade who was killed on October 7, 2023, in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)

Col. Jonathan “Yoni” Aaron Steinberg, 42, the commander of the Nahal Brigade, from Kibbutz Shomria, was killed on October 7 while battling Hamas terrorists near Kerem Shalom.

He was buried on October 8 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife, Yisca, their six children, Shira, Ori, Naama, Benaya, Shilo and Ahiya, his parents, Yehudit and Daniel, and his siblings, Ayelet, Avital, Amichai and Tzofia.

Steinberg was en route to the site of clashes being managed by his subordinates when he encountered a terrorist who killed him. He is one of the most senior Israeli officers to have been killed in combat in recent memory.

“My dear Yoni, our son, a devoted husband, beloved father, fell on his way to fulfill his task,” eulogized Steinberg’s father, Dani, at his funeral.

“Let us carry on the legacy he left us, his family, his soldiers. That way perhaps we can overcome this terrible blow,” he said.

His sister Ayelet, recalled at his funeral his childhood, how “you were always the most organized kid in the house, everything you had was arranged by height and color. You were a symbol for us of stability and security.” She recounted how at the start of the Gulf War, when he was just 10 years old, “you rushed to wake everyone up to go into the sealed room. You led the occasion.”

Ayelet said his most defining characteristics were “modesty and humility. Without bragging or bells and whistles, you always took action and didn’t tell us the details. You taught us that you can express yourself with a smile and a wink. You knew the difference between what was major and what was minor. You were so appreciated and loved, a true friend… we were so proud to be the siblings of Yoni.”

Two months after he was killed, his wife, Yisca, told Kan public radio that the family was still struggling to adjust to their new normal.

“What do we need? What would Yoni want to happen here? We had a family task, the mission of being a military family — now we need to find what our new family mission is,” she said.

Yisca said her husband was “a family man, very present even when he wasn’t physically here. He invested so much in the family, he made sure to find time to come home, he would come even at the expense of extra hours of sleep he was missing. He made nonsense with the kids, activities, he was very present. He knew how to give every child what he needed… he was our anger, with so much spirit, leadership. He was the essence of a family man.”

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