Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

Shesh Shesh Tesha


January 29, 2021

In 1968 Rachel and I made our very first trip to Israel. I have told the story of that trip and what it meant to us. On the flight back to the United States, we confirmed the promise we had made to Adi Ben Orr, our guide in Israel: That we would send our children (toddlers at the time) to meet their Israeli cousins.

And so, it came to pass. As each Shipley kid graduated from high school they spent at least the first six weeks of that summer vacation in Israel. And remember — this is a generation before the Gap Year concept was invented. The effect on each of the kids was different — as it should be.

Tracy was affected enough so that she has lived in Israel for the better part of 40 years. Tom went to college in Israel, joined the Israeli Army — Special Forces. Robin went to six weeks of college at the mountain top campus of a school set up specifically for American kids — and met her eventual husband there. The effect on Adam our youngest was less, but affirmed his Judaism.

In Tom’s case, as is normal in almost any Special Forces Veteran, in the U.S. as well as in Israel you never really leave the service in your memory, your attitude and your thinking. Tom has been a loyal veteran of his service in the Division called Shesh Shesh Tesha: 669

669 is a medical unit charged with rescuing and treating Israeli soldiers injured behind enemy lines. They are a well-trained search and rescue unit.

Like most Special Forces Units in every nation, they never really leave the Unit. They stay in touch with each other and meet when they can to catch up and reminisce. The members of 669 are no different. Although in Tom’s case it has been almost 40 years, the guys still stay in touch with each other.

Matter of fact, they have created a formal association that now holds a charity event on a yearly basis. The money they raise goes toward charities in Israel and especially for those veterans of the Israeli Army with PSTD and other ailments.

The “Alumni Event” this year will be virtual and will take place on Sunday, Jan. 31. If you go to ShesShesTesha.org on your computer you can learn about the Unit and “attend” the Virtual event on that day.

On the website you will read about the members who have become involved in the work of the Unit after Service. It is amazing yet predicable how many young men have gone on to become mature, outstanding leaders in their various after-service enterprises.

Once a year they hold a “Gala” to see old friends and buddies, reminisce over times past and to pass on the tradition by contributing to worthy causes. This year the Gala will be “virtual” - but you can still be a part of it. Just go to: http//www.aru669.org.gala

Do it! It will make you part of the history of Israel — and a mensch.


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