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Synagogues in Maine come together to mourn Israeli soldier who died fighting Hamas

Bangor’s Jewish community offers support for grandfather of fallen IDF captain

Howard Trotzky is a former Maine state senator, retired teacher, wilderness guide and beloved member of Maine’s small Jewish community.

Now that community is coming together to support Trotzky, 83, as he mourns his grandson, who was killed in the fighting in Israel. 

Aryeh Shlomo Ziering, 27, a captain in Oketz, which is the army’s K9 unit, died Saturday after Hamas launched a devastating surprise attack on Israeli border towns and on revelers at a music festival, killing hundreds of civilians and taking hostages.

Congregation Beth Israel and Bangor’s other two synagogues, Beth El Bangor and Beth Abraham, came together Monday night to support Trotzky in a service for his grandson. The local Chabad rabbi, Chaim Wilansky, helped Trotzky watch the livestreamed funeral from Israel. 

Ziering had been home for the weekend for Simchat Torah but returned to duty after hearing news of the attack. He “lost his life in the fight to protect his country,” his aunt Debby Ziering wrote on Facebook. “Aryeh will forever live in our memories as a hero.”

He was buried in Ra’anana, his hometown, in central Israel.

Trotzky’s synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, said in a statement: “We send our love and sympathy to Howard and to all of Aryeh’s family in Israel.”

Trotzky was born in New York City but grew up spending summers in Maine and moved there as an adult. He famously filed a lawsuit to force logging companies to stop using the Kennebec River to move and store logs, which were clogging and damaging the river. Trotzky was honored this year by Maine’s Jewish Hall of Fame

Like his grandpa, Aryeh spent summers in Maine growing up.

The fallen soldier’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Border-Lewin, was one of the 937 passengers on the MS St. Louis, the ship carrying Holocaust refugees that was denied entry by multiple ports in 1939. She managed to disembark in England and survived the war.

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