Photo by friends and family (Facebook)

Shabbat Shalom: Community, resilience, and human connection

May 30, 2024 | Article

They are all heart-rending and tragic; this one hit closer to home.

Photo by friends and family (Facebook)

As the Israeli army’s ground operations death toll reached 292, this past week, we learned that among the fallen is Staff Sgt. Uri Bar-Or from Midreshet Ben-Gurion in our partnership region of Ramat HaNegev. According to an initial IDF probe, Uri and two other IDF soldiers, were fighting in the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion when they were killed by a blast in a booby-trapped building.

Uri was the 21-year-old son of Kobi and Noa Bar-Or; their family is well known in Ramat HaNegev and in Colorado; Kobi and Noa lived in Boulder many years ago. Mayor Eran Doron, a longtime partner with JEWISHcolorado spoke at Uri’s funeral this week. According to VinNEWS, Uri had completed his music studies in school and had done a year of national service before joining his combat unit in the Nahal brigade of the IDF. He was a gifted and versatile music composer, who had already composed several significant music pieces at a very young age. He was described by his mentor, Prof. Michael Wolpe, as an “extraordinary talent, one in a generation. He was on the way to becoming one of the most important Israeli composers.”

At the age of 18, Bar-Or’s composition “Heartbeat Rhythm” was performed by the Israel Chamber Orchestra during a concert entitled “Sounds in the Desert.”

Uri was an outstanding musician with a bright future ahead of him. Said a resident of Ramat Hanegev, “We know you (Colorado) share in our profound grief.”

JEWISHcolorado teen emissary (Shinshin) Liron Amar knew him too; Uri’s younger brother is Liron’s close friend from growing up together. And our recent IDF soldiers who visited Colorado to commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Elad fought in the same unit as Uri.

Uri Bar-Or

Photo from VinNEWS

The grief feels unrelenting; not because of our long and deep partnership with Ramat HaNegev, but because in our midst, our Israeli emissaries (Shinshinim) are teens who will soon return to Israel after a year in Colorado and join the IDF. They are experiencing this war from afar, but also on the front lines.

Our emissaries arrived here as strangers, but they will leave in a few short weeks as cherished members of our extended family. Their journey over the past months, especially since October 7th, has been a testament to their courage, their dedication, and their unwavering spirit. They have shared with us not just their knowledge and culture and their love for Israel, but also their struggles, their hearts, and their friendship. They have remained here – with hearts torn asunder wondering whether they should be there.

Shinshinim at March for Israel

Through their eyes, our community has experienced the intense tragedy of the attacks by Hamas and the indomitable spirit of Israel. They have been, for students throughout Colorado, teachers, guides, and friends, showing them the beauty and the challenges of their homeland. Our Shinshinim have inspired us with their passion, their stories, and their willingness to bridge our worlds together. Their presence has not only enriched our understanding of Israel but has also deepened our appreciation for the values we hold dear – community, resilience, and the importance of human connection.

JEWISHcolorado’s Shinshinim program is made possible through its partnership with The Jewish Agency and is generously supported by JEWISHcolorado and local donors who understand the value and necessity of building bridges with people around the world. To support the community of Ramat HaNegev and its decades-old Colorado partnership, give here, and select Ramat HaNegev in the drop down menu.

May Uri’s memory be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom,
Renée Rockford