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WATCH: Israeli primetime news features German-Israeli Christian family whose son fell in Gaza war

Urija Bayer fell in the battle against Hamas terrorists at only 20 years old

When Urija Bayer, son of a German Christian family that settled in Israel after the Holocaust out of a desire to “comfort God’s people” (Isaiah 40), fell in the Gaza War, his and his family’s moving story covered with considerable interest in Israeli media.

While the Bayer family is not Jewish, they chose to bind their fate together with the State of Israel and received approval to become permanent residents.

Their son, Urija, represents the third generation of his family who came to Israel to build a home for elderly Holocaust survivors out of the family's Christian Zionist faith and to “atone for the crimes of the Nazis.”

While Urija’s death received much attention in Israel, his family’s ties to Germany also caused many expressions of sympathy for the German Christian who gave his life for the Jewish state, leading his family to take an unusual decision.

His father Gideon told Israel’s Channel 12 news outlet that he received many condolence calls from Germany. “And I said, wait a minute, it doesn’t make sense that I am crying via WhatsApp with people in Germany, mourning via WhatsApp.”

Gideon and Nelli speaking about their son, Urija, who fell in battle in Gaza (Photo: Screenshot)

For this reason, Gideon and his wife Nelli decided to travel to Germany and hold a traditional shiva (Jewish grieving period), to mourn and remember their son.

During a shiva, a family will typically sit on the floor of their home and receive guests who come to express their condolences. “This isn’t known in Germany, this is completely new to them,” Gideon said.

In Israel, the story of the Christian German soldier who died in the service of the State of Israel moved the hearts of many.

On the day of Urija’s funeral, thousands of residents of the town of Ma’alot stood along the road to the cemetery holding flags and paying their last respects.

“We received a big, warm, loving hug here, from all the people of Ma’alot, the State of Israel and the people of Israel,” Gideon said.

The Channel 12 news documentary summed up the feeling of the entire nation: “Almost 80 years after the Holocaust that brought the Bayer family here, they paid the heaviest price of all and officially became an indivisible part of us, the Israelis.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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