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An artist gifts portraits of fallen Israeli soldiers to families

Izi Szyldhaus has painted all 67 IDF soldiers who fell in Operation Protective Edge, and he is attempting to get every portrait to the respective soldier’s family by Memorial Day, ‘saying thank you to the families by painting.’

For an entire year, Izi Szyldhaus, 76, sat in his house in Ramat Gan and painted the portraits of the 67 IDF soldiers who fell in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, and he has now asked to give the pieces of art to the soldiers’ parents. In a post online on Monday night, he asked for assistance in transporting the portraits to the families of the fallen located in farther points of the country.

“I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to deliver every portrait to every family,” he stated. Following Ynet’s coverage of the matter, hundreds of citizens contacted Szyldhaus to offer their assistance in transferring the pictures.

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Szyldhaus’s portraits (Photo: Izi Szyldhaus)

Szyldhaus, a professional painter and interior decorator, immigrated to Israel 30 years ago. “No war did to me what Operation Protective Edge did,” he said. “During the war, the people of Israel traveled to bring soldiers food and gifts, which I wasn’t able to do, so I decided that I would do it in my own away. Saying thank you to the families by painting.”

The portraitist explained, “I painted them based on pictures that I saw on Ynet. I chose the clearest photograph of each fallen soldier, and I began to paint, beginning with the eyes. When the eyes spoke to me, I would continue with the rest of the painting. The paintings were completed with oil paints; the eyes are color, and the rest of the painting is black and white.”

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Potraits by szyldhaus
Szyldhaus’s portraits (Photo: Izi Szyldhaus)

The paintings were hung for a time at Yad LaBanim (an organization commemorating Israel’s fallen soldiers), and afterward, they began to be transferred to the families. Szyldhaus managed to visit the Tal family, whose son, Lt. Omri Tal, was killed by a mortar in the Eshkol region on his way to the staging area. “The meeting really moved me and was full of emotions, but it was also difficult mentally,” Szyldhaus said.

He has already managed to give some of the paintings to the families with the assistance of others. “In my estimation, I have 25 paintings left to send,” Szyldhaus said. The remaining destinations include Safed, Nahariya, Haifa and the surrounding areas, Jerusalem, Modi’in, Netivot, Kiryat Arba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be’er Sheva.

“It’s important that as many families as possible receive the painting of their son before Memorial Day,” said the painter.

Szyldhaus is not the first to attempt such an undertaking. During the operation, the painter Shirly Raz Narodezki worked on commemorating fallen and comforting bereaved families. In July and August of 2014, she painted three portraits each day and gave them to the families. Noam (Dabul) Dvir (Ynetnews)