September 28, 2006

C.U. Alum Killed by Hezbollah Rocket in Israel

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David M. Lelchook ’78 was killed by a Hezbollah rocket while riding his bicycle late last summer.

Lelchook heard the air raid siren go off and immediately started pedaling to safety. He was racing home in order to protect his dogs and relocate them to a safer shelter, but he never made it there.

On Aug. 2, his body was found in his front yard with his dogs guarding it.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Lelchook had been minutes away from entering the bomb shelter in his home,when the rocket landed in his yard killing him instantly.

Lelchook’s family told The Boston Globe that Lelchook was a brave soul who believed in loyalty and therefore decided not to leave when the fighting began. He carried on with his daily life in fear and threat of constant rocket fire.

Two weeks prior to this attack, David’s wife, Ester, had relocated to a safer part of the country.

“He was scared but refused to leave,” she told The Jerusalem Post.
Lelchook explained to her, “Someone has to stay,” she said.

He felt an obligation to his kibbutz, a communal farm, and his pets — three dogs and three cats. Lelchook’s kibbutz was located only seven miles from the Lebanon border.

Only 70 residents of the 450 people that once resided in Kibbutz S’aar remained.

“Kibbutz S’aar now resembled a ghost town,” one of David’s coworkers told The Boston Globe.

The morning Lelchook was killed, 60 rockets landed on his small kibbutz.

Lelchook grew up in Newton, Mass., a suburb outside of Boston. He graduated from Newton South High School in 1972 and had always been determined to attend Cornell, his brother told The Daily News Tribune.

During his time at Cornell, Lelchook played football and was fascinated with the Middle East.

He graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1978 and immediately took a trip to Israel.

While volunteering at a local hospital in Israel, Lelchook met his future wife Ester, an Israeli native.

According to The Post, in 1980, Lelchook decided to leave his Boston residence and relocate to Israel permanently. He and his wife eventually settled in Kibbutz S’aar to raise their family.

His wife worked at a local hospital while Lelchook worked the land of their orchard of pomelos, fruits similar to grapefruit.

His family told The Boston Globe that he was a simple man who believed in peace and moved to a kibbutz for a society and lifestyle that strives toward the equality of all.

Until his death, Lelchook stayed optimistic. He believed that the fighting would stop and peace would prevail.

“I still can’t believe it. He was careful and often went into a protected room,” Ester informed The Jerusalem Post. “But he was not careful enough. Now I have joined the circle of bereaved families”.

David is survived by his mother Doris, who resides in Newton, his brother Alex of Acton, Mass. and his sister Judith of Alexandria, Mass. He also left behind his wife Ester and his two daughters, Yael, 25, and Michal, 23.