Max Steinberg, a native of Los Angeles, was laid to rest in Jerusalem on Wednesday with 30,000 people in attendance to pay last respects to the Israeli army sergeant who lost his life fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Steinberg, 24, was killed Sunday along with five others with his Golani infantry brigade when a rocket propelled grenade hit their armored vehicle. A seventh soldier was also believed to have been killed but remains missing.
As of Wednesday, 32 Israeli soldiers had been killed in Gaza in less than a week of ground fighting.
Steinberg, who grew up in Woodland Hills and attended El Camino Real High School, visited Israel in 2012 with his brother and sister and decided to stay and join the army.
Like other Jewish young adults choosing to immigrate without their parents and volunteer for military service, Steinberg was considered a "lone soldier," a category recognizing his special circumstances and offering some extra support from the system.
Israelis mobilized to pay tribute to Steinberg and honor him with a show of support. The large crowd -- nearly all strangers -- answered calls of social media and conscience and attended the rites at the military cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl. Several websites live-streamed the ceremony.
Many dignitaries joined the ceremony as well, offering comforting words for Steinberg’s parents, Evie and Stuart, and his siblings, Paige and Jake, who attended the gathering. U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro extended a message of support and condolences on behalf of the American government and people.
“I didn’t know him but he fought for us and died for us,” Yuval Shimon told local media. “It is a great honor for me to be here at his funeral.”
Sobelman is a special correspondent.