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Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Squirrel Hill school hit hard by death of Israeli soldier

Sniper kills young soldier who grew up here

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

As news spread of a young Israeli soldier killed by a sniper Monday along the Lebanese border, mourning began at Community Day School in Squirrel Hill.

David Solomonov's ties to the school were strong. The 21-year-old had spoken to students just a year-and-a-half ago about what it was like to serve in the Israeli Army. His mother, Evelyn Solomonov, taught English at the school, and he had been a student there before his family moved to Israel in 1994.

"This is very emotional for all of us," said Meyer Grinberg, executive director of the Jewish Education Institute, which includes the school.

"He was killed on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day you are supposed to be sealed into the Book of Life."

Solomonov died five days before he was scheduled to finish his three years of service in the Israeli Army.

Students were informed of his death during regular morning services yesterday, and he will be remembered during tomorrow's service. Although plans are still sketchy, the school plans to establish two permanent memorials to Solomonov, one at the school and one in Israel.

"He was a good boy, a fun-loving boy, a very kind boy," said Carolyn Kamens, a teacher. "He loved animals and worked for a veterinarian. He adopted everything that walked out on the street without an owner."

His parents had met and married in Israel. His mother, a native of Ohio, went to Israel after college and fell in love with a native-born Israeli, Mordechai Solomonov, better known as "Solo."

Their first son, Michael, now a sous-chef at a Philadelphia restaurant, was born in Israel before the family moved to the United States. After working for a time in a family jewelry business, Solo Solomonov opened a Subway sandwich shop in Greenfield.

Grinberg drove young David Solomonov in a car pool.

"He was a quiet little kid, not very athletic," Grinberg recalled. It was something of a shock to find that Solomonov had worked himself into shape for an elite military unit.

"When I think back on him at 8 or 9, it seems amazing. He went from being a nice little boy to a superb soldier."

It is a Community Day School tradition for each eighth-grade class to visit Israel. And one year Evelyn Solomonov went as a chaperone.

"She hadn't been back since she lived there, and she totally fell in love again with Israel," Kamens said.

And that is what led the family to return to Israel when David Solomonov was 12. Kamens recalled that he was reluctant to move.

"He was scared. He didn't want to leave his friends," she said.

The pain of transition was eased a year later, when the entire eighth-grade class that he would have been part of attended his Bar Mitzvah in Israel.

"His family had a party at the house and all his friends were there," Kamens said.

He grew to love Israel. Although military service is required of all Israelis after high school, it was something David Solomonov did with conviction and dedication, his mother said in a telephone interview from Israel.

"He was really proud to be a soldier and proud to be protecting his country," she said.

"But he loved the United States. He was a real American. My friend said you can take David out of America, but you can't take the American out of David."

He was a spotter with a sniper unit in the Golani infantry, which patrols the border with Lebanon. Despite tensions, fatal attacks on Israeli soldiers have been rare there, according to the Israeli media.

He studied martial arts. But he also was taking Arabic on his own initiative to communicate better with the Arabs he met, his mother said. He was interested in a career with the Israeli security forces, defending his adopted country.

He continued to care for abandoned animals and at holidays frequently came home with English-speaking soldiers who had no family in Israel, she said.

His talk to Community Day School students in April last year wasn't a recruiting speech, just the story of what it's like for a kid from Pittsburgh to move to Israel, Kamens said.

He was planning for life after the army, and had spoken of perhaps attending college in the United States.

His mother said she was told by one of his superiors that his unit was conducting a routine patrol when he spotted something that looked suspicious.

"That was his job," she said. "He and three other guys in the vehicle went to see what it was, and he was killed by sniper fire from the Lebanese side of the border."

The Israeli news service Ha'aretz reported that medical teams rushed to his aid but were unable to save him. Some Israeli army sources suggested that the attack was committed by the terrorist organization Hezbollah in response to Israel's attack on a what it said was a terrorist training site in Syria. Hezbollah denied responsibility.

David Solomonov will be buried today at 7 a.m. Pittsburgh time in the military cemetery in Kfar Saba, where he lived.

"Israel is a great country. And I suppose he died defending it, didn't he?" his mother said.

There was a picture with this article. He looks just like he did in grade school, only more grown up.

Is this how old people feel when they read the obituaries and see the names of people they knew?

Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An Israeli soldier with Pittsburgh roots was killed by a sniper near the Lebanese border yesterday.

Staff Sgt. David Solomonov, 21, whose army service was to expire Sunday, died as his unit patrolled near the border.

The Israeli army said shots were fired by a sniper of the Syrian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group. Hezbollah, which is also backed by Iran, said in a one-sentence statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut that it was not involved.

Friends in Pittsburgh of the Solomonov family said the the soldier was born in Pittsburgh. He attended the Community Day School in Squirrel Hill, where his mother, Evelyn Solomonov, was a teacher. His father, Mordechai "Solo" Solomonov, owned a restaurant in Greenfield.

The Solomonovs emigrated to Israel nine years ago, but David Solomonov returned for visits.

Had my radio training tonight. The DJ I was working with, Mike, normally does a hip-hop show, but when I got there he told me he was changing it up a bit because I was going to take things over for the second hour. So, for the first hour I was running around and looking at all the CDs and records and trying to pick out things to play.

Midnight rolled around and I took over. Started with Placebo, Sisters of Mercy, Tori Amos, Freedy Johnston, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Ended up putting on a whoooooole bunch of rotation stuff because there was just so much to pick from that I had no idea what to play.

I was really nervous but I think I did all right, for the most part. My mics were decent, but that's pretty formulaic: read a PSA, list the songs you just played, give the time and temperature... not too much to screw up, but I still had Mike talk a bit to help me out. Working the board, on the other hand, was a bit rough. I messed up a couple of times and turned up the wrong channel so I missed the beginnings of songs, and it was kind of hard to choose things to cue up in the CD players. But I'm getting the hang of things now.

I have a "board test" coming up on Wednesday, so maybe I'll get a show this semester, but I'm not counting on anything. I still need more practice, so I asked Mike about coming back for another show next week (it'd be hip-hop again, so he'd be in charge of the music because I know nothing about hip-hop, but I could still work the board) and he said that'd be cool. But if all goes well, I'll pass whatever this is on Wednesday and get my own show.

So. w00t.

Ooh, and I mentioned that I'm thinking of using Synergy for a DJ name and Mike said he thought that'd be cool. Must see about staking it out now.