St. Louis native injured in Gaza released from hospital

By Repps Hudson, Special to the Jewish Light

Max Levin, the former St. Louisan and Israel Defense Forces soldier who was injured a week ago in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, was released Sunday (July 27) from the hospital and is staying with his parents in a nearby hotel.

Karen Levin Tamaren, a family therapist in St. Louis who is Sgt. Levin’s sister, said she has spoken with her father, Bernard “Bud” Levin, of Belle Canyon, Calif.  She said her brother, 21, did not return to the kibbutz where he has lived since making aliyah in 2012.

“I think they’re trying to figure out what to do next,” Levin Tamaren said Monday.

The son of Bud and Judy Levin, Sgt. Levin is in the special Palchan Tzanchanim unit of the IDF’s paratroopers brigade.  He was injured in Gaza when a remote-controlled bomb exploded as he and three other soldiers were trying to enter a house.

The other three were killed while Levin suffered shrapnel wounds in his head. He nearly lost an eye, but was well enough to be released from Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv.

Levin graduated from Solomon Schechter Day School in 2007, then moved with his parents to the Los Angeles area. He has three older sisters in the St. Louis area, including Levin Tamaren.

As a “lone soldier” with no family in Israel, Levin has no direct relatives there to visit him. His sister said her father told her that he wants to return to his unit as soon as possible. 

However, Levin Tamaren forwarded an email from Jonathan “Joey” Price, a second cousin who had visited Levin after he was injured. Bud Levin wrote that the thoughts in the email expressed his own sentiments.

“At the hospital,” Price wrote, in part, “I witnessed an astonishing thing. In the [about two] hours we were there, a steady stream of people came to Max’s room, bearing presents of food, balloons, flowers, flags, letters from people he didn’t know, pictures drawn by Israeli children for wounded soldiers.

“Max is a lone soldier. I am his only blood relative here, and while he has made friends and has become close to his adoptive family in a kibbutz in the south (near Sderot), he does not have the wide social circle of someone who grew up here.

“But that was not relevant. Israelis came, in groups of all sorts, from the wide rainbow of Jewish society here, to visit the wounded soldier: secular and religious, men and women (and [especially] many young women, in and out of uniform), young and old, Ethiopian children, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, from almost the entire, remarkable range of Am Israel.

“They offered Max their prayers and blessings, sang songs, told him stories, asked him about himself, and most of all, just said ‘Thank you.’

“They said, ‘We love you and we thank you,’ to which Max responded in his modest way, ‘I love you, too.’ ” 

Another part of the long email to Levin Tamaren describes how an IDF psychologist told Levin that his three friends were killed in the operation. He ordered everyone out of the room so that he could tell Levin the bad news in private.