Monday, 8 August 2022

Gadi Isaacs 2003-2022

This is an incredibly hard post to write.
On 21st May 2022 Richard and I lost our much loved 19 year old son, Gadi. Nadav lost his younger brother. Gadi made the decision to end his life after an evening with friends, an evening that began very peacefully with candle lighting and Shabbat dinner with Richard and Nadav. I was in the UK at the time, enjoying a break with my dad. Dad was due to travel back to Israel with me to see the boys, whom he hadn’t seen since before Covid began. We had many plans for the month ahead and Gadi was supposed to have a regila (one week off from the army) for the first time in 9 months. We know that he was looking forward to seeing Grandpa, with whom he was very close.
Gadi was home for the weekend from the army, having being on his base for 21 days previously. Since returning home, he had gone out for something to eat with Richard and then gone shopping with friends to buy a new shirt and aftershave. On the Thursday evening Gadi spoke at Kosher Kravi, the pre-army training course he had attended before his enlistment and shared his experiences in his usual talented way. He then spent the night in Tel Aviv with another friend who was in Israel for the year and was shortly due to return to the UK. They wanted to spend one more evening together, hitting the bars in Tel Aviv.
On Friday afternoon, he bought a large quantity of meat for a barbeque to celebrate his best friend’s birthday, planned for Saturday evening.
Everything was normal.
On Friday evening, after dinner, Gadi went out to the park opposite our home with a friend. It seems that he, unwisely, decided to smoke a joint with a friend. Marijuana is in the process of being legalised in Israel but is illegal for soldiers. We are almost sure that he had not smoked since he went into the army 9 months previously and have no idea why he made the decision to start again that evening. But he did. After just five minutes a policeman arrived and took Gadi and his friend to the local police station. Gadi’s friend was released because she is not yet in the army. Gadi was kept there, alone.
We have no idea what happened to him there, though Gadi later that evening told his friend that the police were aggressive and mean. We do know that they called the army and Gadi was issued with a doch (report), calling him to a meeting the following Sunday morning.
Gadi knew he was in trouble.
Afterwards he went to join his friends at one of their homes. It was now late and they were all very tired. They talked about Gadi’s problem and started checking online about the punishments he was going to receive. Google is not always the best place to go for accurate answers and it is clear that Gadi thought his punishments were going to be far greater than they really were. He and his friends then tried to watch a film but were soon falling asleep.
We know that Gadi walked straight home. He collected his army issued rifle from his bedroom and walked to our local beauty spot, Titora Hill or Giv'at ha-Titura, a 10 minute walk away. After some time he called a helpline, but they clearly failed to help him. He messaged his friend, who was asleep. At 3:30am a report was made from a member of the public who had heard a gunshot.
My youngest son – my artistic, creative, bookworm son - was gone.
Everyone who knew and loved Gadi knows how special he was. He did not enjoy school but, despite the fact that he did not work hard there, he still graduated with a relatively high bagrut (Israel's high school matriculation examination). He was accepted into the mechunanim program for gifted kids when he was younger. The program enabled him to study one day a week outside of the school framework and Gadi loved it. In High School Gadi participated and shone in the school’s MUN (Model United Nations program). He was the star pupil in Dovrei Anglit (the special English class for children who already speak/know English), simply because he was such a keen reader. His vocabulary was incredible.
This is a guest post he wrote on my blog when he was just 11 years old.
As well as a writer, Gadi was also a wonderful illustrator. I have files full of the many drawings he created. He also enjoyed taking photographs. Gadi loved dogs and took his dog walking responsibilities seriously. When he was younger, he was an active member of a youth organisation and had many good friends from there. He loved watching football and had a passion for travel. For many years he had a map of the world on the wall above his bed. It is still there. He had great plans to see the world after the army.
Gadi was also a very typical teenager and, when home and not busy with his many friends, he spent a lot of time in his room with the door shut. I didn’t love it but believed – and still believe - that it was quite normal.
Why am I sharing this? Since his passing I have sadly heard many rumours that Gadi had been depressed and had been smoking marijuana for years.
We are as certain as we can be that Gadi was not depressed. He had been accepted into an elite unit in the army and, though it was hard, was doing well. The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) does not accept soldiers into elite units – or into the army at all – if there is any sign of mental health problems or depression. He passed many tests and interviews to reach the position he was in.
As part of his training, he underwent shavua milchama (war week). 4 soldiers in a very confined space do not leave the tank at all for 5 days. There is no way that anyone who has mental health issues would be able to hide it. We, his family, never saw any signs at all of mental health problems. Neither did any of his many friends. In other words, we are convinced that Gadi's death was due to an incredibly unlikely sequence of events on that one catastrophic evening.
Yes he had smoked marijuana with friends on and off in recent years. We did not like it or approve of it and he was not allowed to smoke at home. But so many people – both young and old – do it. It is a common sight – and smell – here. Gadi was no different to any other young person who was smoking in the parks of Modi’in that night.
We miss Gadi every moment of the day. We think of him and remember the joy - and sometimes chaos - he brought to our lives. If you knew Gadi, we would love to receive stories from you. If you didn’t know him and perhaps like to hear a little gossip, please for Gadi’s sake, think before you repeat it. Our talented youngest son has been taken from us in the absolute worst way and all we can do now is tell people what happened that horrific night and make them aware of just how amazing Gadi really was.

* This post has been shared on Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).