Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh

Yehuda Katz - MIA

Yehuda Katz was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, on July 18, 1959 to Yosef and Sarah Katz. Yehuda, as his parents say, "is a serious young man, but he also has a good sense of humor."

Yehuda's abiding passion in life is the study of Torah and Jewish Law. After high school, when Yehuda was drafted into the army, he served in the Hesder program, combining military service with religious studies.

He spent the study component at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, where he was the star student of his class. Friends recall that Yehuda was so immersed in learning that he barely slept four hours per night - less than in the army.

Yehuda planned to continue learning, and eventually become a Rabbi and teach at a Yeshiva upon his release from the army.

When the Shalom Hagalil war in Lebanon broke out, Yehuda was sent into battle at Sultan Yakoub as a member of a tank crew, only ten days before he was to finish his army service.

The night before the battle, Yehuda felt the tension and fear amongst the other soldiers. A natural leader and role model, he gathered them around and began teaching them the laws of proper conduct for a Jewish soldier in battle, as set forth by the Rambam (Rabbi Moses Maimonides). After his lesson, he led them in singing a song from chapter 23 of Tehillim (Psalms): "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me."

On June 11, 1982, at the age of 22, Yehuda Katz was captured at the battle of Sultan Yakoub, at the same time as Zvi Feldman, Zachary Baumel, Hezi Shai, and Aryeh Lieberman. Hezi Shai and Aryeh Lieberman were later freed in a prisoner exchange. Zachary, Zvi and Yehuda remain captives, held incommunicado over 25 years.