ROCKVILLE -- Karen and Jeffrey Lee Cohen were in Israel the day before Israeli Defense Force Lt. Daniel Mandel was killed in action at the age of 24.
They attended burial services held the same day in April 2003 and were struck by the praises sung by his comrades and friends.
Mrs. Cohen said he was not only called "an incredible lieutenant who treated his soldiers like he was their father. He taught them a love of the land and he deepened their appreciation of what this land means."
The couple had bought the naming rights for the new sanctuary at Chabad Shul of Potomac and when they had to choose a name, they agreed that Daniel Mandel would be "the most meaningful."
Speaking before the official dedication ceremony Sunday, Mrs. Cohen explained that Chabad "means lamplighters of the world. They are out spreading Judaism in the most remote parts of the world. That was his mission."
When the couple went to see his parents David and Cheryl Mandel at their home near Jerusalem about the planned naming, Mrs. Cohen said "they were overwhelmed. They were crying, but they said 'we have to grow from this experience.'"
By naming the sanctuary after their son, Mrs. Cohen said "his name will live on."
Rabbi Mendel Bluming said "when there is one fallen soldier we all suffer. There is no community that lives on an island. We are all just one Jewish people."
Because Chabad Shul is "very inclusive," the Rabbi said "we didn't want a big building. The sanctuary that will seat 200 is actually an addition to a house the congregation has been using that still stands behind it.
The Orthodox Rabbi said "there is a feeling that this is one home, one synagogue and unity."
The ceremony is open to the public. It will not be restricted to Lt. Mandel, who was killed near the West Bank city of Nablus. It will also focus attention on the "more than 18,000 military and civilian Israelis who have given their lives in the worldwide war against terrorism," according to Bruce R. Mendelsohn, Communications Director for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Mr. Mendelsohn said "Lt. Mandel joined more than 50 members of the security forces and 163 civilians who, according to the Israel Government Press Office were killed in terrorist attacks perpetrated in 2003 against Israeli targets."
The dedication ceremony will include a message from Lt. Mandel's mother Cheryl, who has also established a Web site in her son's memory (www.daniel-mandel.co.il).
The program at the sanctuary at 11621 Seven Locks Road in Potomac will begin at 10 a.m., rain or shine.