The abduction of late Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin during Operation Protective Edge came as his brother Hemi, a dancer with the troupe of renowned ballerina and choreographer Rina Schenfeld, was rehearsing a new work entitled "Don't Leave Now," which will go on stage at the end of next month.
"The dance was nurtured over a long period of time in the rehearsal room in Tel Aviv," says Hemi. "The dance - and in parallel our lives - kept going. The seasons changed, we and the dance changed, and the summer brought the war.
"The creation of the dance took place between the sirens that screamed 'war' and the wonder of Whatsapp, which updated us on the wellbeing of our nearest and dearest on the battlefield and in the shelters."
Hemi, 31, a resident of Jerusalem and a lawyer by profession, is the second of the Goldin children. The oldest is Ayelet, 35, and the youngest is Tsur – the 23-year-old twin of Hadar. The sharp transition from rehearsal to mourning at his parents' home is something Hemi will never forget.
"My brother Hadar did not return from the war, as I discovered when I came out of rehearsals that Friday. The next rehearsal was at my parents' home during shiva," he recalls from a distance of some months. "Today, when my body moves to Idan Raichel's words, life moves on. I'm moving on too and taking my brother with me."
A family united
The story of Hadar Goldin is one of the most painful of the Gaza fighting. Goldin was kidnapped on a Friday morning, during a clash between Givati Brigade soldiers and Hamas terrorists - on the eve of ceasefire negotiations. One of the terrorists blew himself up, and during the battle Goldin was kidnapped and taken into a Hamas tunnel. During the incident, Major Benaya Sarel and Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni were killed.
At first, the Goldin family received notice of a kidnapping. In light of the news that the fighting in Gaza was coming to an end, they held a press conference in which they asked for the operation to continue until Hadar was returned home.
"It is inconceivable that we will now leave Gaza with my brother held hostage inside," said Hemi at the press conference. "It would be a failure, a true failure."
But a few hours later, the full and painful picture emerged. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Major General Orna Barbivai and IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier General Rafi Peretz visited the family home in Kfar Saba, and told the family the worst: The IDF had determined that Hadar had not survived the kidnapping.
Dancing between sirens
"Work for the (new performance) began in the period before the fighting but took form and shape during the sirens and the missile hits," recalls Rina Schenfeld, with whose troupe Goldin has been dancing for quite a few years.
"The sole shelter in the studio is the bathroom, and we all piled in there during the sirens. That same bitter Friday when Hadar, Hemi's brother, was kidnapped, we had danced with great joy. Then, when he came out and heard the terrible news, everything went dark. At around the same time I heard that my sister's grandson had been seriously wounded in the legs.
"When we went to the funeral and shiva, there were more hugs and physical support and less talk. Only after came the talking. I knew that dancing was the best solution for Hemi and the troupe. We clung to one another with all our might.
"I'm still shocked and stunned from the war and the situation. It is surprising how we all carry on as usual after the war, with some limping along. "
What did Hemi's parents say to you?
"His mother told me after the shiva, 'dance with him as much as possible, dance is the best medicine.' He returned to the rehearsal room right after the shiva, and it gave the work a new color. Even now it is not easy for him. He dances because it somehow gives him sanity. "
Do you still talk about what happened?
"We talk a lot less, but the dancing speaks and through it the two of us talk about how we feel about the situation and about living here. The dance is not (just) dancing, and rather than dancing in an atmosphere of gloom, it is an Israeli atmosphere."
Performances of "Don’t Leave Now", based on the songs of Idan Raichel and Shlomi Shaban and created jointly by Schenfeld and the troupe, will begin February 25 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. The Schenfeld troupe decided to dedicate the first night to the memory of Hadar Goldin, who was an artist at heart, and Hemi and Hadar's drawings will be on display in the foyer of the Suzanne Dellal Center.
"I am amazed by Hemi's family," says Schenfeld. "It's wonderful that there are people like this family, with nobility and great optimism, full of faith and feeling."