May 6, 2009 / 12 Iyar 5769
On the sixty-first Israeli Independence Day, the traditional ceremony in honor of outstanding IDF soldiers was held in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Among the 120 soldiers receiving the Certificates of Excellence was Reuven Tautang, a graduate of the Jewish Agency's Ben Yakir Youth Village and new immigrant from India.
Reuven (24) and his family came to Israel in 1998 as part of the Bnei Menashe aliyah to Israel and settled Kiryat Arba.
Shortly after his arrival in Israel, Reuven, the youngest of the family’s seven children, went to the Jewish Agency's Ben Yakir Youth Village. During his stay in the village, Reuven made a name for himself through his exemplary behavior and was elected most outstanding student in the dormitory. He invested time and work into his studies, enjoyed the wide range of extracurricular activities, especially enjoying horseback riding offered in Ben Yakir, and earned many loyal friends. In eleventh grade, Reuven took part in the Ben Yakir student delegation to Poland, run under the auspices of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. He completed his studies at Ben Yakir with top honors after twelfth grade in 2004.
Several months ago, Reuven was wounded during his military service along the Gaza border by a Palestinian sniper’s gunfire, which hit his hand. Despite his injury, he insisted on returning to his peers and rejoining his battalion.
When the staff at the Ben Yakir Youth Village heard the day before Yom Haatzmaut of Reuven’s being named outstanding soldier, they were elated and overcome by pride. They mentioned to him that they all served in the IDF, yet none of them won the award of outstanding soldier. Reuven replied, “You didn’t graduate from Ben Yakir.”
This is Reuven – somebody who shows gratitude and appreciation. He, more than anyone else, is deserving of having the country show appreciation for his contribution, as well.