Silent Water

12.01.21

Keren was a flight mechanic devoted to her job. Between flights she was part of the swim team in Rehovot where she first met Naama, a young high school student.

 

In memory of Keren Tendler



Keren Tendler was born on the 5th of Tishrei 5740 (September 26, 1979) in Rehovot to Reona and Dan. She was older sister to Nadav. 

Keren was a cheerful and ambitious girl with many interests. She loved drawing and in particular fashion drawing and artistic photography. She was also a professional swimmer in Rehovot in the Maccabi team at the Weisgal Center and in the Masters Yafora group. She took part in competitions and won numerous medals. Her mother describes the years of her childhood and adolescence: “She was always full of energy, busy. At the age of 5 and a half she started swimming and learned how to skate from her father. She was a very active child and she hardly slept. She wanted to swallow life up: to swim, to run, to spend time with friends. She wanted to do things. She had ability and she felt that she could exploit it.”



But her most prominent ability was her very developed technical sense, and her enthusiasm for the world of aviation outweighed everything else. When she entered Grade 10, she was accepted to the CAD (computer assisted drawing) specialization. Keren and her friends in the specialization were only three girls in a class of 40 boys, but that didn’t bother them at all. From the first moment, she was enthusiastic about the profession and already at that stage of her life she saw her future in the Air Force. She completed the matriculation exams when she was 17 and a half. At the beginning of July 1997, she started early basic training and then continued on to Grade 13 and 14 at ORT College. In 1999, she completed her studies and was accepted to mechanical engineering. Immediately on completing her studies, she began serving in the Air Force and was sent to the helicopter mechanics course at the Air Force Technical School in Haifa. The course lasted for four months and at the end she was assigned to a Yasur helicopter squadron at the Tel Nof Air Force base, where she served as a ground mechanic. 

Her job filled her world and she enjoyed every moment. In 2000, as part of her job, she was chosen by her commanders for a mission in Greece to fight fires, and there was no one happier. 

During her service, Keren passed several very difficult exams, and that motivated her to do the flight mechanics course, the profession that she had dreamed of. Her commanders encouraged her and recommended that she be sent to acceptance exams. The ambitious Keren did basic training for male soldiers at Level 7 and later went through the trials, which were similar to those for the pilots course. Everyone passed successfully and immediately on entering the professional army in January 2001, it was decided to send her to the long-awaited course. Keren was the only girl in the flight mechanics course, but that didn’t stop her from getting higher marks than the boys. The course lasted about eight months and at the end she received her flight mechanics wings and was sent to a parachuting course as a bonus. At the end of the course, she was sent for certification in the squadron and here again she got the highest marks among the participants. 
 

 


Keren Tendler z"l

 


Keren was the only ever female flight mechanic in the Yasur squadron. After certification, she returned to the Night Movers squadron, which became the love of her life. She excelled in her job and participated in many operations, both in Israel and abroad, most of which are confidential. The drive to volunteer and the desire to contribute motivated her again and again.

At the beginning of 2005, after four years in the professional army in the Yasur squadron, she decided to leave military service in order to study law with a specialization in aviation law. She finished the first year with honors. But in spite of the difficult and demanding curriculum, Keren did not lose contact with the squadron and her job as a flight mechanic, even for a minute. Thus, from January 2006 to July 2006, she did 50 days of reserve duty. Usually, she volunteered for reserve duty and her commanders knew that whenever she was called she would volunteer for service. Thanks to her dedication and efficiency, she was approved to do reserve duty under professional army conditions during the summer vacation after her first year of studies. She was meant to continue serving until the beginning of the next school year in autumn 2006. 

During her reserve service, the Second Lebanon War broke out. During the fighting, her squadron had to carry out operational flights over Lebanon and Keren asked to take part. At first, her commanders were opposed and let her participate only in operational flights within Israel. But Keren was determined to fight like everyone else and her request went all the way to the squadron commander. Finally, he agreed and she was sent out on an operational flight over Lebanon on August 11th, 2006. 

The next day, on the 19th of Av 5766 (August 12, 2006), Keren was killed in battle in Southern Lebanon. She participated in the large operation to land troops deep in Southern Lebanon. She encouraged the soldiers and assisted them during the flight. She won many praises from them. After the landing of the force and about 30 seconds after taking off again, the Yasur helicopter was hit by a missile fired by the Hezbollah and Keren was killed, alongside her fellow members of the crew: Major Sammy Ben Naim, Major Nissan Shalev, Captain Daniel Gomez and Sergeant Major Ron Mashiach. She was 27 on her death.

Keren’s body was retrieved under fire in a heroic operation by the Shaldag and 669 units. She was buried on August 16th in the military cemetery of Rehovot. She left behind parents and a brother. After her death, she was promoted to Sergeant First Class. On her tombstone it says: “Our Keren, smiling, ambitious, loving her fellow man, warrior. In our hearts forever.”

Chief of Staff Dan Halutz wrote the following to the family: “Keren’s commanders recount that she was a fearless warrior who fought for the right to join combat missions. Keren was diligent and perseverant in a difficult job and she rejected any exemption that was offered to her. Being the first female flight mechanic, she was a symbol and role model for all the squadron members and in particular the female soldiers. Keren was friendly and was accepted among those around her. I am sure that her character will light the way of her commanders and friends.”

Giora, Keren’s direct commander, wrote: “…You were a wonderful soldier who invested and was respected; a role model for flight mechanics…I can’t forget the smile that characterized you so much, your determination to be an equal among equals and your amazing ability to adapt to any situation…Thank you that you were with us during your best years. It is a pity you aren’t with us for the rest of the way. We could have done wonderful things together.”

Following is part of a poem written in her memory by Ayal Shemaryahu:
“The gold of your hair, the blue of your eyes / the good in your heart and laughter in your mouth / the light that shines on those around you / like a warm light that fills your world and your universe / like the fragrance of a flower in a field / and like a mother’s love for her child / our eyes will not see your beauty / and the sound of your voice will not be heard / however, in the good place, in the desert oasis / a place in which God resides / in which there is rest, in which there is tranquility / in this place your rays will shine – the warm ray of light.”

Her family members wrote the following: “Keren was a ray of light in the Tendler family. She was sister to Nadav, always a supportive daughter to her parents and was a source of pride for them. After her death, there was a deep hole in the heart of her family, one that will be difficult to fill. But the legacy that she left behind is comforting. This legacy is one of determination to do the thing you love. Without letting people steal the opportunity away from you, despite the constraints on the way and while destroying stigmas and stereotypes. Her family will honor her memory for generations to come.”

Naama Mashiach, friend of Keren Tendler z"l who was a flight mechanic in the professional army, talks about their two-year-old friendship which began at the pool. Naama describes Keren as determined, diligent, funny and mischievous. She recounts that "Keren went where others dared not go."

יוטיוב


Comments by Yair Harel, the creator of the clip: 

The story of friendship between Keren and Naama and which ended on Keren’s death during the war, is folded within the story of friendship between Keren and the helicopter she loved so much. In order to describe these two friendships, I chose the two main elements in the story – swimming and aviation – and switched back and forth between them.

Keren flies with Naama in the swimming pool, while in the sky with the helicopter she swims. I feel that this mix contributes to the description of the mutual influence between the two relationships. Her skills in the world of aviation and her military “combat spirit” led Keren to the swimming pool. She pushes Naama forward and takes off with her, while her caring and concern for Naama is present also in Keren’s care of the helicopter – when she swims toward it and starts it from behind, just like she helped Naama. 

The name of the clip is reminiscent of the well-known saying “Still waters run deep.” Although Keren was not a particularly quiet person, the saying definitely relates to the choices she made in her life. Like water, if given enough time it will penetrate and get to its destination. In this way, Keren, with determination and perseverance, achieved every goal she set for herself. She succeeded in difficult courses and filled roles that were thought only suitable for men. 

Keren’s activity in the clip hints at a personality that crosses boundaries and violates norms. She changes direction by means of swimming – she crosses the boundary into Naama’s lane and transforms the conventional and monotonic activity of swimming into a free-spirited and inspiring dance. The transition from convention to freedom is also reflected in the overall structure of the clip, which begins in the closed and square environment of the locker room and finishes in the wide open space of sky and landscape. 

I feel a personal connection to Keren’s story, since I was also a soldier in the Second Lebanon War and furthermore Keren and I are both from Rehovot. And at the end of the street that I grew up on is a park named after her. Furthermore, the production of the clip on Keren was from my viewpoint a particularly important task, against the background of the recent public debate on women serving in the IDF. In my view, memorializing Keren and her legacy can contribute to the acceptance of women in combat roles and in that sense there was no better time for making a clip about an exceptional woman such as Keren.   

From the press,

Through animation, a new breath of life for the fallen- THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

 

עוד בבית אבי חי