Those We Have Lost

Sgt. First Class Ben Zussman, 22: Committed to fighting for Israel

Killed fighting in Gaza, December 3. Wrote in note to parents: ‘If I have to die, I hope it will be protecting others’

Sgt. First Class Ben Zussman (IDF)
Sgt. First Class Ben Zussman (IDF)

Sgt. First Class Ben Zussman, 22, of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion, was killed fighting in Gaza on December 3.

Zussman, a native of Jerusalem, is survived by his parents, Sarit and Tzvi, and two younger siblings, Mika and Boaz. He was buried on December 4 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Friends and family described Zussman as a talented ping pong player, devoted Beitar Jerusalem sports fan and committed wholly to fighting for the State of Israel.

“How can I go on without you, my Ben?” asked his sister, Mika at his funeral. “You were the big brother any little sister would ask for. Even when I was little, mom would say that you would take care of me like I was a princess.”

His mother, Sarit, said Ben “was a dream child. We were never called for a conversation with a teacher or principal. We never had a problem waking you up for a new day — you always got up ready to take action. You lived all the days of your life to the fullest, every stop in your life was full. You loved Beitar Jerusalem will all your strength, there was a period where you refused to eat green foods, because you couldn’t support Maccabi Haifa. You never rested from the goals you set for yourself, but you were always happy and surrounded by friends.”

Shortly before he fell in battle, Zussman wrote a note to his family in the event that he was killed. It found its way to them two days after his death:

“I’m writing you this notice on the way to base. If you’re reading this, it seems something happened to me. As you know me, there is probably nobody happier than me right now… I am happy and thankful for the privilege that I had of protecting our beautiful country and the people of Israel.

“Even if something happens to me, I won’t allow you to wallow in sadness. I had the privilege of achieving my dream and my goal and be sure that I am watching you from above and smiling a huge smile. I will sit next to grandpa and fill in a few blanks, each one of us will share our experiences and what changed from war to war.

“If God forbid you are sitting shiva, turn it into a week of friends, family and fun. There should be food, meat of course, beer, sweet drinks, sunflower seeds, tea and of course mom’s cookies. Laugh, tell stories, meet with the rest of my friends you haven’t seen yet. I’m jealous. I would want to sit there and see everyone.”

Zussman wrote that if he were captured, dead or alive, he did not want his family to launch a campaign for his return, nor lobby for the release of imprisoned terrorists, or risk harming any soldier for his rescue.

“I will say it once more, I left the house before I was even called to reserves. I am full of pride and a sense of mission and I always said that if I have to die, I hope it will be protecting others and the country.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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