Grandfather – I am your number one soldier.
About six months ago you invited me to your office: “Tal – I would like to hold an event for the company and for all my employees throughout the years”.
A pretty strange request in light of the fact that you didn’t even want us to celebrate your 90th birthday.
But I, as your number one soldier – I did as I was told. I headed out and checked dozens of locations in Raanana, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Tel Aviv and Yahud and came back to you with my findings.
“I want it at Kedar Center” – you said.
And I, as your number one soldier – did as I was told. I worked out all the details with the events hall at Kedar, including grass over the entire parking lot, tables, catering, lighting, D.J and a host. The event was scheduled for 29.6.16, and how ironic it is that this is the exact day on which you left us.
And then you called me: “Tal – it has to be respectable. I don’t want people to talk nonsense”.
And I, as your number one soldier – did as I was told. In the past month I studied the history of your life every evening until late at night. I found photos of all periods in your life, from your birth in Hungary, through the difficult period in which you were not given the opportunity to study law as you wanted to, just because you were Jewish, and so you learned to be a skilled locksmith – the profession that would accompany you throughout your life. Then the escape from the labor camp, the extradition to the Gestapo, the arrest and prison where you were weak and starving until the day of your release, and after the war – joining the “Habonim Dror” movement where you met grandma Heddy… you were an avid Zionist and of course quickly made the decision to immigrate to Israel.
But your difficulties were far from over, as on the way here you were sent back to Cyprus as the British had closed the gates. Uri was born in Cyprus and you were appointed Security Officer of the camp, a role that would prove to be life threatening.
You were smuggled into Israel in a 5-person boat, with only a bathing suit on your body, and nothing else. At Kibbutz Maoz Haim you waited for Uri and Heddy to finally arrive. Later came the decision to settle in the small farming community of Raanana, in which a group of Hungarian former kibbutz settlers found their home on Yehuda Halevi Street, where you built your first locksmith shed.
This fire led to some good luck and you were able to purchase the plot on which Kedar Center was later established at the industrial area, and where you built your new workshop. You named your first company “Oron” – a fusion of the names of your two sons Uri and Roni.
Then came the process of establishing Kedar Mivnim and the manufacture of thousands of precast structures that made Kedar into a synonym of excellence throughout the country (you would be happy to know that I even got my hands on the picture of the structure that you build in the north).
Later you called me to your office again: “Tal – if you bring employees on stage, make sure they say something interesting, I don’t want people to be bored.”
And I, as your number one soldier – did as I was told. We interviewed all our employees, heard their stories, and of course everyone praised you and talked about how they feel a part of the family. How you cared for them in good and bad times, and even when you had to make the decision to convert the precast plant to the residential construction field, together with Uri and Roni you made sure that everyone still has a job and no one was left unemployed.
A few days later you called me again: “Tal – during the event you can boast a bit. Be proud of what you do, so that people can see what you achieved”. This was certainly not typical talk, coming from the most modest person I know.
I know I have made you proud. In the past 5-6 years we would go out once a month on a projects tour. This was our quality time together – yours and mine.
You were sharp as a whistle, asking about every project, and frequently remarking during our drive: “That secretary knows how to dress”, “That one is pregnant – have you found her a replacement yet?”, or “Keep an eye on him…”. Nothing evaded him even at 93 years of age.
As we were heading out on our last tour about two weeks ago, I asked you where to start, and you said Neve Zemer. You wanted to check the progress of the project, because a month earlier you had been at the project’s cornerstone ceremony.
I also took you to see all our future projects. Let me tell everyone here that you used to dedicate the first 15 minutes of each tour to attempting to alarm me:
“Tal, the situation in the country is bad”, “Tal there is a recession”, “Tal interest rates will rise”, “Tal interest rates will drop”, etc…. but when we would reach the point of actual decisions, I would ask:
“Grandpa, it’s a big project – should we take it or not?” and you would always say a clear yes. Because you were always a true entrepreneur at heart, and even at 93 you still held on to all your entrepreneuring optimism.
On Thursday less than a week ago you called me again: “Tal, I want to meet the host of the event.” And I, as your number one soldier – did as I was told. We scheduled a meeting for Sunday at 11:00.
Three days ago you were still at the peak of your strength. I said, “Grandpa, this is Yoav the host”.
You: “Hey Yoav, are you planning to shave for the event?”
Yoav: “Do you want me to shave?…”
Yoav: “Sure, no problem, I will shave”.
You: “Listen, Yoav, if you plan to be the clown of the evening and steal the show I will get up and leave…”
Yoav: “No way, it’s going to be respectable.”
And this was the end of the meeting. I laughed to myself, Yoav doesn’t know you. He doesn’t know that just like any typical Kedar you are tough on the outside and soft inside. When I was leaving the room, you gave me half a wink…
Yesterday when I saw you in the afternoon you were already unconscious. I said to you: “Grandpa – you don’t have to come to the event, I cancelled it. You can rest in peace.” For a moment you opened your eyes and I saw that you understood…
On my way home, I only prayed that it will end quickly and that you will not suffer. I know you. You could not bear the thought of not being in control. My prayers must have been heard because 10 minutes later dad called and told me its over.
My dearest grandfather, as your number one soldier and number one admirer, I can promise you that your legacy and everything that you have taught me will live on.
Don’t worry about us, we will be fine. You can be sure that we will continue to proudly raise the flag of your legacy on every peak or mountain that we conquer.
We and the entire family will make sure that this legacy continues on to the next generations, because you deserve it. A life such as you have lived equals 4 entire generations.
And now the time has come for you to rest.
So as your number one soldier – I salute you.
Grandpa I love you.