Those we have lost

Maj. Tal Grushka, 25: Nahal commander who was a piano prodigy

Killed while battling Hamas near Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7

Maj. Tal Grushka (IDF)
Maj. Tal Grushka (IDF)

Maj. Tal Grushka, 25, a company commander in the Nahal Brigade’s 931st Battalion from Kfar Saba, was killed on October 7 while battling the Hamas invasion of southern Israel.

Tal was on his way with his soldiers from where they were stationed in Gush Etzion to Kibbutz Kfar Aza when they encountered a cell of terrorists along the way, and a gun battle ensued, during which he was killed.

He was close friends throughout much of his army career with Maj. Roey Chapell, who was also killed that day while fighting near Gaza. Roey was slated to complete his army service just a week after he was killed, and Tal was supposed to take over his job as commander of Nahal’s Orev Company — yet neither lived long enough to take those next steps.

Tal was buried on October 10 in Kfar Saba. He is survived by his parents, Edva and Yosef, his siblings Itai, Yael, Itay and Hadar, and his girlfriend, Inbal Lapid.

On Memorial Day in 2023, Tal published a post on Facebook about why he chose to pursue an army career in a combat role, despite the many difficulties and challenges.

“Today, 75 years after the establishment of the state, the sword that was placed upon our necks from the dawn of history is still sharp and threatening,” he wrote. “Some of our neighbors are still not seeking peace, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Iran and its affiliates, all try to challenge our existence. My fellow fighters, each and every one of us is a decisive factor in our meaningful service, and when needed on the battlefield… only together can we ensure quiet for the citizens of the State of Israel and continue to protect its independence.”

A talented pianist from a young age, after his death Channel 12 uncovered footage from an interview he gave to the network at age 10, ahead of a piano competition, during which he expressed excitement about his upcoming performance.

His older brother, Itay Bichler, told Calcalist in a memorial video that “Tal was an exceptional young man, talented at playing the piano, expressing himself through writing and acting with great talent, and later became an exceptional soldier and commander.”

Itay noted that every time Tal left base for the weekend he would instruct the soldiers under his command “to get their phones out and call their grandparents and wish them a Shabbat Shalom,” something Itay hoped would turn into a tradition in Tal’s memory.

Tal’s girlfriend of close to four years, Inbar Lapid, told the Davar news outlet that he excelled in every area of his life.

“Everywhere he went he excelled, in everything, picking up certificates of excellence in every course, team, battalion, platoon commander’s course, officer’s training — he had all the certificates in his office. He was that annoying kind of person, how could he succeed in everything he touched? How are you good at everything you do, as well as handsome and cool? He wasn’t a nerd or a bookworm. He just had this magic touch in his fingers.”

He was deeply devoted to the army, she said, which irked her when he was delayed to meet her during his infrequent breaks since he had to ensure everything was in order. “He always had to make sure 100%. A control freak and stubborn. He loved the army too much…. one of the things I loved most about Tal was that he knew exactly what he wanted and you couldn’t stop him.”

In the interview six weeks after he was killed, Inbar said she still sees him everywhere.

“In my head I see him in every place, standing in the kitchen, standing behind the barbecue, sitting in the hammock, sitting on the chair outside, on the couch, asleep in bed, doing pull-ups outside… I will never stop loving Tal.”

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