Our son Koby was a boy who loved his family, his parents, his 2 brothers and sister. He loved his countries, America and Israel, and he loved our village of Tekoa and he loved the land of Israel. He was murdered by terrorists for that love, while out hiking with his friend Yosef Ish Ran. On May 8th, the 2 boys skipped school to go hiking near our home. He was killed brutally, viciously, in a cave, pummeled with bowling ball sized rocks. He was killed with utter cruelty.

Koby was a boy with a fierce intelligence. He had a very good memory and remembered almost everything. He was the family historian. He could tell you what time each of his siblings was born, and how we had celebrated each holiday the previous years. At the age of 2, he could recite books by heart and he was already giving directions from his car seat, telling me which direction to turn to get to “Mommy and me” meetings.

In elementary school, Koby played third base because he had an incredible arm. He was a great basketball player too. He loved Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken and even in Israel, he collected baseball cards. He followed American sports on the Internet, and after he put some of his bar mitzvah money in the stock market, he also followed the stock market and could explain how it worked. He also liked cartoons from the New Yorker. He was innocent and sophisticated at the same.

He loved sports, he loved learning, he loved hiking, and most of all, he loved laughing. He loved telling jokes. He was very funny, and he loved to laugh.

He moved to Israel when he was in 4th grade and it was very hard for him, becaue he couldn’t speak Hebrew and he missed his friends, but he never complained. He went from a class of 15 boys and girls in American to a class of 40 boys in Israel. He didn’t speak in class for a year, but because he was a good athlete, he was immediately accepted by the kids. Because he went from being the class leader in America, to one of the least known kids in his class, I always thought maybe he would learn compassion from his experience.

And he did. At the shiva, a boy came to us and told us that that week, the boys had to pair up in gym class for volleyball practice, hitting the ball back and forth. Koby had first choice and could have chosen anybody. He was the best player in the class. The boy, who was short and wore glasses and who spoke in a whisper said—“Koby chose me—and I am the worst player in the class.”

Koby was very modest and didn’t brag to us about any of his accomplishments. He loved to read and would read the same book over and over till he had it memorized. He loved learned Gemorrah. He told me he liked it because it was “very interesting.”

Koby, as the first-born, was the first in our family to celebrate his Bar
Mitzvah. In addition to the Bar Mitzvah itself in the synagogue, the
festivities included a party with dancing and trips around Israel. Many
family members from America joined us in the festivities. After all the celebrations I asked Koby what the best part of his Bar Mitzvah celebration had been. “The Torah reading, ” he answered.

Koby understood the importance of loving his heritage. He never complained that we had dragged him away from Silver Spring where he had been very happy. He was happy to be part of this country.

Now he is part of this country’s history, and in his memory, others are being healed. I know he would be proud of how his spirit is contributing to helping the people of this country.

As he said about a boy who had been killed in a terrorist attack a month before his own death—“It’s sad for the boy, but it’s sadder for those left behind. “

It’s sad for us Koby. But each day, we continue to create, and to transform the cruelty of your death into kindness.

                                                                              Sherri and Seth Mandell