Stuart, Evie, Jake, and Paige – I so wish we were welcoming you to Israel under any other circumstances.
We stand here today, thousands strong, to honor and commemorate the life of Max Steinberg: a brother, a son, and a hero. Indeed, these past few days – Israel has lost far too many heroes.
There are no adequate words to describe the pain of losing Max. To his beloved family: your pain is our pain, and we know that Max’s death leaves a void that can never be filled. On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and the American people, I bring a message of support and consolation, and what comfort we can provide.
Max was raised in Los Angeles, but was driven by faith and conviction to Israel, bravely moving across the world on his own, and arriving to Israel as a “khayal boded,” a lone soldier, who served valiantly as a sharpshooter in the Golani brigade. Max was a person of character and commitment, with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. He was an exceptional young man who felt a deep connection to the Jewish people and the state of Israel – so deep that he wanted to defend them with his life. With his comrades, he died to ensure that the people of Israel can life free from fear, free from terror, and free from the threats of rockets and tunnel attacks.
The relationship between the United States and Israel is historic, deep, and rich. We have strong security, economic, and cultural ties. But more than all of those things, we have people like Max: citizens of our countries who find common ground in our shared values, ideals, and a joint sense of purpose. A deep connection flows between Israelis and Americans, and heroes like Max strengthen our common bonds.
Though he arrived in Israel as a lone soldier, today, Max is part of our larger family. A son of the United States, a soldier of Israel, he represented the best of both our countries. For all of us here who did not have the privilege of knowing him, it is an honor for our lives to briefly intersect with his. And to his family: although it cannot possibly heal the pain you feel, you should know that we, all of us, Americans and Israelis, are proud of him.
Max, you selflessly gave your life to protect and defend this country, honoring both Israel and the United States of America with your courageous service. While your promising story ended too soon, we are all inspired by your example, your courageous service, and your commitment to upholding the ideals and values we all share. You are buried now, among so many of Israel’s heroes, in Jerusalem’s rocky soil. As your family returns here in years to come, may they take comfort in the bond between America and Israel that your life and service represent.