FIDF Event Shines a Light on Siblings of Fallen Soldiers

Gil Lesnik

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces hosted a Shabbat dinner in Center City. The evening’s special guest was Israeli writer, producer and director Gil Lesnik, who screened his film “My Younger Elder Brother” at the dinner. The film documents the struggles of a previously overlooked group of bereaved people: the younger siblings of fallen soldiers.

According to Lesnik, the IDF has a very strong support network for the parents of fallen soldiers. From the moment parents receive the tragic news — and for many years afterwards — psychologists are there to help them cope, as well as peers who have experienced the same loss. What Lesnik discovered was that for the siblings of fallen soldiers, there is a double loss: their brother or sister is dead, and their parents are falling apart.

Lesnik produced a film made up of interviews with the siblings of three such families. A decade later, he interviewed these siblings again, and used this second set of interviews to produce the film “My Younger Elder Brother.” By offering a better understanding of what the siblings of fallen soldiers experience, Lesnik’s work has spurred changes within the IDF. Now, when a young person is killed during his or her military service, psychological support is provided to the siblings too.

Lesnik’s own military experience includes serving as a paratrooper in the first Lebanon War in 1982 and as a team commander in a special forces unit. During his 25 years in the reserves, he served as a combat soldier for the paratroopers unit, and later, joined a special squad responsible for screening and identifying soldiers who would become part of an elite IDF unit.

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