Tuesday, October 15, 2013
The Life of a Yom Kippur War Widow
Israel Defense Forces
For Ora and Nechemia, it was love at first sight. They felt they were meant to be together. But just as they began to build their life together, the Yom Kippur War broke out and changed everything. This is the story of Ora Graiver-Dobrish, widow of one of the 2,691 soldiers who lost their lives in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
“If it wasn’t for this, my life would have been so different,” says Ora Graiver-Dobrish, widow of a Staff Sergeant Nechemia Dobrish, a soldier who fell defending Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
Ora and Nechemia met as teenagers in Petah Tikvah in the early 1960s. Through school, their local Bnei Akiva youth group and a ballroom dancing club, the two friends soon became a couple. “We were meant to be together,” she says of her and Nechemia.
In 1965, Nechemia was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces and served in the Artillery Corps. He was a talented soldier and even went through the process of becoming an officer before deciding to pursue a career in law, graduating from Tel Aviv University.
By 1973, Ora and Nechemia were married with a young son, Yaron. Nechemia was in the process of studying for the bar exam, the last step before becoming a lawyer. Once the Yom Kippur holiday rolled around, Nechemia put down his law books for what he thought would be one day. The day of Yom Kippur, however, Ora began seeing army vehicles filled with soldiers on the street. She knew something strange was going on. A few hours later, Nechemia himself was called up for draft duty. Nine days later, in the midst of the Yom Kippur War, Nechemia was with his unit fighting a battle against the Syrian army in the Golan Heights when he was shot in the back of the thigh.
He was immediately rushed to the intensive care unit of Ziv Hospital. That same day, back at the Dobrish's home in Petah Tivka, Ora noticed people lingering near her building’s entrance as she returned home from a walk. Seconds after arriving home, there was a knock on her door. Two officers and the family doctor were there to tell her that Nechemia was in the hospital.
Ora rushed to the hospital as fast as she could with Nechemia’s sister Chava. Doctors said her husband was in critical condition, but she did not expect the worst. “I thought it meant he had a bad injury to his arm or leg,” she recalls. Within 48 hours, Nechemia was gone.
Ora became a widow at age 26, but still managed to go on with life, even without her soulmate. Ora remains a positive person to this day despite the tragedy she has endured. She eventually remarried, had two more sons, one of whom is an officer in the Israel Navy, and built a career in the insurance industry. She remains close with Nechemia’s family, especially his sister.
To this day, though, the loss of Nechemia in defense of the state is still felt by those who knew him, especially his wife. “I will never forget Yom Kippur, 1973 for as long as I live.”