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Our friend and member of Beit Halle Messianic Congregation in Ashdod, Israel

Updated: May 16

by Jerry Theckston


Pastor Israel Pochtar and his family have been dear friends for almost 20 years now!  His son, Sason, and his family were in Seattle the past two weeks recovering from his five months on the frontlines in Gaza after the terrible attacks of Hamas on civilians- men, women, children, Oct. 7th!

On that morning in October, David (a member of Beit Halle Messianic Congregation) faced over 400 crazed attackers with only 30 soldiers in his company, to defend thousands of settlers. I knew David and spoke to him and others in their youth group many times while there in Israel. His parents, Chaim and Marian are two of the sweetest followers of Jesus that I have ever met. Below is more about David sent from Beit Hallel...

Inspirational stories of sacrifice and selflessness touch our hearts and echo the teachings of Jesus. Heroes who give their lives for others show us the true essence of love while inspiring us to DO better…to BE better. David Ratner was one such hero!

His life and death are a testament to the verse: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.” John 15:13

“Hamas is attacking!” David was part of the elite Golani combat unit deployed on the Gaza border when he heard this dreadful news on the dawn of October 7. He immediately dressed, grabbed his weapon, and headed for the tower, where witnesses say he shot down dozens of invading terrorists.

David then left the protected area to help his friends and the observers (usually young female soldiers) fight off wave after wave of attacks. Even after he was severely wounded, David fought bravely for another six hours, saving countless lives until finally succumbing to his wounds. His family was later told that over 20 wounded soldiers reached safety because David covered them.

David was a member of our Beit Hallel Congregation in Ashdod and best friends with Guy, Pastor Israel’s youngest son. He was in the church often with his parents, Chaim and Miriam, and grew up as a Messianic believer in Yeshua. He was never afraid to let others know his beliefs in the Messiah. A trait that carried on even after he was in the service. He was known to frequently call to ask his parents to pray for the friends to whom he had been witnessing. His heart was for their understanding to know the Savior.

The sacrifice David made for his fellow Israelis has not gone unnoticed by his community. Recently, a billboard was erected Downtown by the City of Ashdod to honor him. It brings great joy to our congregation members and Pastor Israel to see David’s picture and read of the courageous, selfless soldier who gave his life for Israel. Even in his death, he directed others to Yeshua.

The concept of sacrifice embodies a hero giving their life for others, mirroring the ultimate sacrifice made by Yeshua. There is no greater love than this! We too, honor David for modeling the character of Yeshua, even to the cost of his life. His act of selfless love serves as a guiding light for the path that leads to eternal life.



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