Staff Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman,
of blessed memory, Class of 2014
"הַצְּבִי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל בָּמוֹתֶיךָ חָלָל אֵיךְ נָפְלוּ גִבּוֹרִים..."
Yani was born in Tzfat on October 6, 1994, the third child to his parents Avraham and Orli and brother to Nitai, Yaari, and Chanan.
When Yanai was a year old, the family moved to Michmash in Binyamin. He started high school in the Mateh Binyanim Yeshiva and then continued in the Ginogli evening program.
After high school, Yanai studied at Mechinat Yedidya for a year and a half. Two characteristics of his were immediately apparent. One was his eternal smile and endless sociability. The other was his incessant search for truth. Yanai did not compromise and did not give up until he found answers that felt right in his heart and in his mind.
In the middle of his second year in the mechina, prior to joining the IDF, Yanai married Yael, his long-time girlfriend. Two months later, he joined the IDF and was placed in the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion. Despite being married, he never requested any mitigating conditions from the army and continued to be a fighting soldier even after his daughter Netta was born.
Yanai had a week’s vacation from the army which he and Yael and Netta took advantage of for quality family time which he had been missing so terribly during his active service.
On Thursday, February 18, 2016, while shopping for Shabbat in a nearby supermarket, they suddenly heard screaming. Yael, with her maternal instincts kicking in, immediately shielded Netta. When she looked up, Yanai was already gone – having run to help in what turned out to be a terrorist stabbing attack. That’s who Yanai was. He could not stand idly by. He left his wife and baby daughter and ran to save others. The terrorist he battled with his bare hands stabbed him in the back. He died of his wounds.
The values of assisting and giving to others were values that both Yanai and Yael upheld their entire lives. As Yael said at Yanai’s funeral, “I know that if you hadn’t gone to help, you might still be with me. But if you hadn’t gone, you would not be the Yanai I loved so much, the Yanai I fell in love with. That’s just who you were.”
The spirit of Yanai, felt so strongly by his family, by our mechina, and by our entire nation, will continue to inspire us and push us forward to emphasize his values, our values, of solidarity, of fighting evil, of mutual responsibility. We pray that we merit honoring Yanai’s memory by fulfilling King David’s eternal words, “They kneel and fall, but we rise and gain strength.”