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Providing for IDF Soldiers After a Friend’s Death at Nova

David Newman's untimely death at the Nova music festival prompted his friends to create Soldiers Saves Lives, a startup operation dedicated to supporting soldiers on the front lines.
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January 3, 2024
From Left to Right, Ike, David, Godon and a friend at Ike’s Wedding

David Newman’s untimely death at the Nova music festival prompted his friends to create Soldiers Saves Lives, a startup operation dedicated to supporting soldiers on the front lines.

Ike Bodner, one of the five friends who have come together to establish the organization, spoke with the Jewish Journal about the friend he grew up with in Jerusalem.

“It was a harrowing day,” he said. “I woke up that morning to the sound of sirens, and since my room happens to be a bomb shelter as well, I went right back to sleep. After all, we are used to sirens in Israel. When I woke up again, I saw the headlines of what had happened.”

Baruch Apisdorf (Bucky), who had lent Newman his car so he could go to the Nova Music Festival with his girlfriend Noam, texted David: “I hope you are not there,” and received the following text in response: “Pray for me and your car.” The next text that came was more serious: “Praying for a miracle. Something terrible has happened.” That was the last text.

What unfolded next was recounted to David’s friends by Noam. They were having a blast at the music festival, dancing, happy and carefree, when they noticed what they thought were fireworks. Only, they weren’t.

”He told people who escaped the music festival what to do and where to hide. He saved many people.” – Ike Bodner

In a video recorded by Noam, the two are seen sitting under a tree, waiting for the barrage of rockets to stop falling. Noam is even singing, totally unaware of the gravity of their situation. Shortly after, they started running until they saw a garbage container. “David was a big guy and very strong,” said Bodner. “He started tossing people in there. He told people who escaped the music festival what to do and where to hide. He saved many people.”

Newman, who served in the Golani combat unit, was a leader. In that role, he found himself atop the pile of people who were hiding, making him the first target. After hiding for a while, he ventured out to assess whether it was safe to seek help. However, Hamas terrorists noticed him and threw a grenade into his dumpster, killing him on the spot. Noam sought refuge under his body and survived, but tragically, many of those hiding in the dumpster lost their lives.

David Finishing His Army Course

However, the friends were unaware of this yet and remained determined to find David and bring him back. Gidon and Ezra, armed with two drones, headed south in the hope of locating their best friend. Upon reaching the war zone, they found the road blocked by the IDF and were not allowed to continue. A day later, David’s body was recovered.

Bodner had known Newman since they met at school in Jerusalem. Many of their parents made aliyah years ago from the U.S. They, along with Baruch, Gidon, Gabe and Gani, formed a close-knit group of friends. Because they hadn’t served in a combat unit, they felt compelled to contribute in a different way. Thus, the idea of raising donations and providing essentials to the IDF emerged. 

Recognizing the soldiers’ need for gear in the ongoing war, they moved quickly. They initiated the first shipment by sleeping only 30 minutes on the first night, taking turns, and quickly became experts in raising funds and coordinating shipments to Israel. They meticulously ensured that all the gear was approved by the IDF to prevent any wastage. 

Bodner transformed his mother’s Long Island home into a collection center and spread the word within the Jewish community. Hundreds of Jews responded by bringing duffle bags filled with tactical gear, medical supplies and more. They also enlisted the assistance of El Al and raised the necessary funds to finance the transportation of these shipments to Israel. In less than 48 hours, these five young men, without any prior experience, orchestrated an inspiring operation.

The initial shipment of 12,000 tons of supplies arrived at Ben Gurion Airport right after David had passed. The friends stood at the airport, embracing each other in a circle, with tears flowing freely. They had marked the first of many shipments, all in memory of David. The next day, they all went to their best friend’s funeral. Noam, who sustained injuries, was brought there from the hospital.

The organization now boasts 10 full-time staff members and has successfully shipped $23 million worth of equipment to Israel. 

The friends firmly believe that David would have been proud to witness their accomplishments.


Find out more about Soldiers Save Lives – In memory of David Newman on soldierssavelives.org.

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