An October 7th Memoir

Aftermath: An October 7th Memoir takes the reader on a journey into the Israel-Palistine War, along the way introducing the reader to soldiers, mourners, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

In the shadow of October 7th—a day marked by an unspeakable tragedy that shook the very foundations of innocence and peace—Binyamin Klempner embarked on an extraordinary journey of resilience and support. Aftermath: An October 7th Memoir unfolds the remarkable story of Klempner’s mission to aid Israeli soldiers on the front lines, a testament to the unyielding human spirit in the aftermath of violence and loss.

Driven by an initial desire to provide basic necessities, Klempner's commitment evolves into a profound connection with those defending their homeland. His memoir weaves together a series of powerful letters to potential donors, recounting his experiences of delivering supplies, offering moral support, and engaging in deep, empathetic conversations with soldiers facing the realities of war daily.

Klempner navigates the dangers of conflict zones with courage, his narrative rich with the thrill of adventure and the weight of responsibility. Through his eyes, readers are invited into the heart of battlefields, where the sounds of rockets and gunfire underscore the urgency of his mission. Yet, it is in the quiet moments—visiting the wounded, honoring the fallen, and confronting the human cost of conflict—that Klempner's insights into bravery, sacrifice, and the search for meaning resonate most deeply.

Aftermath is not merely a memoir; it is an exploration of the complexities of the human condition in times of war. It challenges readers to reflect on the nature of heroism, the importance of compassion, and the resilience required to stand in solidarity with those in the line of fire. Binyamin Klempner, with his rich background in psychotherapy and his leadership of the Unity Farm Foundation, brings a unique and thoughtful perspective to the narratives of war, survival, and the enduring quest for peace.

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Excerpt from Aftermath © Copyright 2024 Binyamin Klempner

Isreal Update · Jan. 12-16

Dear Friends,

I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Often it seems as if those on top don't get wet when it rains on those on the bottom. As if those on top don't hear what those on the button are saying. Like it passes them right by. Several weeks ago I received a message from one of my readers. A real socialite. She told me how wonderfully I write and how profound my writing is. But she didn't donate anything for the soldiers. I would have preferred she messaged me that my writing is high-schoolish and my thoughts shallow, but donate. Even five dollars, without the accolades, would have meant more to me, and certainly for this war effort, than nothing but accolades.

Words without action hurt morale! For people with the financial freedom and comfort to donate, financial donations send the message we believe there's a war and we believe we're going to win the war. When people who can afford to give don't, that also sends a message: we don't really believe that there's a war, and even if there is a war, it's probably you're fault for starting it, and even if it's not your fault for starting it, we just don't care…

The encampment was located in the parking lot of a tiny rural cemetery. Surrounding the parking lot were tanks and APCs. The night was cold and dark. And haunted by friendly ghosts. The nights are always full of ghosts. This night had the good fortune of being haunted by friendly ghosts. “OH NO!” “What?” “Did you feel that?!?!” “I did. I felt one about a minute ago but I didn't want to say anything.” “Oh, man! Oh, man! I think I have to go now. I need to do something. I need to take shelter. I can't just sit here!” “It's okay. It's okay. It'll be a few minutes at least until it starts raining hard.” The soldier relaxed a bit. I continued, “Let me tell you a joke I heard from a few Golani guys: These two soldiers were lying in a tent. They heard a big boom. The first guy gets really really worked up. He's terrified. Hyperventilating and all that. The second guy says, ‘Calm down! It was only a shell!' The first guy, instantly calming down says, ‘Thank God! I thought it was thunder.'” The soldier began laughing like crazy, then said, “That's a good one!

That's a really good one! I'll have to tell that one to my father! He'd really appreciate it!” In five minutes it was already raining a steady rain. I got back into my car and turned the windshield whippers on high. The rain didn't stop. It didn't stop all night it rained five days straight. Cold rain. Strong wind. Cold air. A paratrooper I was speaking to who fought in the 1981 War with Lebonan told me that his PTSD comes not from fighting Hezbolah but from fighting the cold. “Lying down on the cold Lebonese ground for six days at a time on ambush. The cold. The cold. Sinking into every fiber of my body. Freezing my bones. That was the enemy that defeated me. That was the enemy that defeated my morale. That cold is the reason I'm a nervous person today. I'll never get over the cold.” Yesterday I went to make coffee for a different group of soldiers. Got there just before the rain finally stopped. As they drank the coffee I made them it seemed as if they were being revived in some deep metaphysical way. They were calling me their angel who showed up at just the right moment. I enjoyed them as much as they enjoyed me. They asked me what I do for a living. I told them I do sound therapy. Is that like music therapy? They wanted to know. I explained that I use gongs, and bells, and chimes and the like. I told them that sound therapy works well for PTSD. They said that's what they could use. I told them that I'd like to begin working with soldiers. I told them I'm thinking about contacting the Ministry of Defence's Office of Rehabilitation offering to provide my services for reimbursement. They looked like they needed to tell me something they didn't want to tell me. That

I-don't-want-to-be-the-bearer-of-bad-news look. Then, the young woman who was the commander of the group, in the Israeli army, being the bearer of bad news always falls on the highest-ranking officer, told me the score. “Us soldiers suffering from PTSD, which many of us are could really use sound therapy, but the problem is the insiders. The top-brass higher-ups. The bureaucrats who make decisions. For them, it's all about psychiatrists and medications and occasionally someone to speak to. They're going to be reluctant to a new offering. I don't think they're going to be interested no matter how much we, the actual soldiers, would benefit.” I had a momentary recollection, the kind of momentary memory that seems to last hours, even days, weeks, or months. I was on the yellow school bus back from Sleepy Hollow Day Camp. Adam Hirschfelder, the son of a good family friend and six years my senior was socially confident as he mingled well with his peers. Adam was an insider's insider. I, on the other hand, was socially awkward. Not mingling well with others. I was an outsider's outsider. I wondered, with both envy and admiration, taking pride in the social success of a family friend, how Adam did it. How he mingled so well, with such confidence. Was it learned, and if so how could I learn it? Or was he just born with it? Was it stars or scholarship…or both? Forty years later, Adam remains sought after, an insider's insider and I, like the kid forty years ago on the yellow school bus, remain an outsider's outsider, unnoticed. I woke up from my daze. I consoled myself. Soldiers are also outsiders, on the front, beyond the civil. Like me, on the front, beyond the civil. At least the soldiers thought of me as a man of accomplishment. I went on to the next group of soldiers, by then it was no longer raining.

The roadmap on WAZE turned orange. I didn't feel right about it. Continued driving. Then heard a boom just beyond my car. Must have flown right over the car's roof. “That was a Hezbollah rocket,” I thought to myself, wondering when I'm going to stop driving on this road. Continued driving. Then I heard the big booms. Took me by surprise. I jumped in the seat of my car. A bunch more. Earth-shaking artillery booms. Our ammunition returned fire. Kept up for a while until some Colniel must have decided enough money was spent on rounds for the time being.

The rain stopped but the ghosts didn't go away. We stood on the side of the road. He told me that the worst part of soldiering is the ghosts. The hauntedness of being in the dark, in the cold, in the silence that isn't silent, in the aloneness that isn't alone. Creepy. Being seen but not seeing. But it happens to be that this place in which we stood is one of my favorite places in the world. Not far from Rosh Hanikra. With the forest on one side of the highway and the Mediterranean on the other. The sea breeze, the sea aroma, and the cliffs of Rosh Hanikra. It is also one of my son's favorite places in the world. If there are ghosts there, the ghosts are my friends. But for this soldier, the ghosts were not his friends, they were haunting him. I got out of my car, gave the two soldiers hugs, and told them I'd be making them espresso. They said that was just what they needed on a dark, cold, haunted night, a hug and an espresso. They said that before I leave I should give them another hug, “not another Hauge,” they said, but a hug! At any rate, we spoke. We spoke about their anger and outrage towards America and Americans. America as a government entity and Americans as both a culture and as individuals who together form a people. They spoke about their anger over American dictates concerning the war and how it is to be fought. America, whom half a century after My Lai has the moral refinement to preach as if America is the saint it is not. They spoke about their anger towards

American individuals who speak against Israeli politicians. They spoke about their anger towards Americans who hold political opinions about Gantz, and Netanyahu, and Lapid, and Leiberman, and Benet, the Left, the Far-Left, the Right, the Far-Right, even the center, when, after all, it was division that caused this war in the first place, and, not only that, they don't even live here. The same thing drives me just as much up the wall. I know a fellow. An overly righteous fellow. The politically righteous type. I felt the frustration and the pain of these two young soldiers. Indignantly, one of the soldiers stomped his foot and yelled, “Americans have no right to an opinion! And if they want to have one, they should move here!” I'll paraphrase what this soldier is saying, “This isn't a political war. This is a war about homeland. Our homeland.

This isn't a war about or caused by one man or by any one group of men, this is a war about the existence of the Jewish people.” As a writer it's not my job to agree or disagree, I'm just writing the things I heard, the things I witnessed and experienced, and the things we spoke about.

I drove a bit more and visited a soldier in an ancient Mosque built centuries ago by the Ottomans. The fellow looked sad. Lonely. Isolated. Unsure if I was real. Maybe unsure if he was real. I made him a hot coffee. The hotness and the aroma of the coffee assured him of the realness of us both. He spoke about his fears regarding this war. Where it's going. Yes, Gaza has been put under a semblance of control. But Hamas is still holding hostages and still firing rockets. And as for the North, “What's the solution?” he asked. “I guess we need to go into Lebanon,” I said. “We've done that before. Do you really think that will accomplish anything?” he asked rhetorically. “I don't know,” I said. Continuing, I said, “It's a shame, Jews have lived in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran for so many millennia. What can we do to make our amends, to clean our side of the road, to restore our relationship with these counties?” We both sat there.

Helpless. Sad. Depressed. We both wanted to do more but there was nothing more to do. He fidgeted for a moment and then politely excused himself by explaining that his wife was about to call for a scheduled conversation. I wished him warmth, dryness, and safety and took leave.

In the words of Hamlet's players, “If we doth offend it's by our own good will.” Guys. What can I say? Mainstream organizations like the Jewish Federation Movement are great, and make no mistakes, they do great work, but when people I know, friends, and relatives, far, and near, donate to large, faceless organizations, organizations that don't return the story, the story of where their money goes to, the story of who benefits from the money, the story of how they benefit from the story, it hurts. It really really hurts. You should give to the Jewish Federations and Magen David Adom, but if you've read this far, you should be giving at least as much to support the soldiers who rely on me. You should be giving at least as much to support the soldiers who rely on you! I'm supporting the families of five soldiers with one thousand shekels a month each. If I had more I would do more. If I have more is a question I'll leave it to you, the reader!

Wishing you warmth, safety, and dryness, Binyamin Klempner

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