This evening I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Amos Levitov. He was speaking at a nearby college and it didn’t seem like an opportunity I could pass up. But who is this guy?
In October 1967, Amos was drafted into the Israeli Air Force. He spent two years in flight school before becoming a full-fledged, albeit green, navigator. He had just two months experience in combat when he was selected for a special mission deep inside the Egyptian borders. Nervous, excited, proud, Amos boarded one of 6 F4 Phantoms. Only four of these planes would return to Israel. Amos’ plane was not one of them. His plane was shot down over enemy territory and both he and the pilot were captured.
They were taken to a prison just outside of Cairo, where Amos would spend the next 3.5 years of his life. In his lectures, Amos shares stories of torture and of human kindnesses, of camaraderie, ingenuity, sadness and frustration. Without going into all of the details (you can read his book for that), I walked away from his lecture in shock. I am still processing the story he told tonight. About the fear of not knowing what would come, worry about what his family was thinking. How he cried upon receiving a letter from his mother after 4 months in captivity. How he and his fellow Prisoner’s of War (POW’s) adopted a cat and held meetings every Friday evening, lighting candles with the tips of their shoelaces and the little oil they were able to gather throughout the week.
Amos is very clear that 3 things got him through this ordeal.
- Faith – Growing up in an extremely secular family, he turned to a higher power during his time in solitary confinement.
- Love – The love he had for his family in Israel helped him fight for survival as he couldn’t bare the thought of abandoning them
- Hope – When he and his fellow POW’s would wonder about when they would be able to go home, they would say ‘will be home in time for the next holiday’. Always pushing the deadline back but only a few months at a time gave them enough hope to push through.
Amos Levitov is an inspiring man. Upon returning home,after years in captivity, he re-enlisted in the Israeli Air Force, attained a degree in Economics, wrote a book and lectures throughout the country on enduring extreme stress, zionism and moving forward. If you have the opportunity to hear this man speak, you should leap for it.
Click here to visit Amos Levitov’s website
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