וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים, לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ
"Now choose life, so that you and your children may live"
Avi was born in Herzliya, a coastal city in Israel’s central region, to a religious Yemenite family. A gifted student with ADHD, he struggled in school, eventually dropping out after bouncing from one high school to another to find the right fit.
Avi then began working for a cousin in the building industry. This cousin became a true role model and helped prepare Avi for the physical, emotional, and mental rigor of entering the Israeli Defense Forces.
In 1989 he joined the elite Givati Brigade stationed in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip as a foot soldier and commander.
Upon his discharge from the army in 1992, Avi and a friend traveled to the US where he discovered the world of Martial Arts. He immersed himself in his practice and became a 2nd dan blackbelt.
In 2001, two days shy of his 31st birthday, Avi returned to Israel. With no high school diploma, much less an academic degree, and no work experience in Israel, he found himself losing focus and confidence once again. But with his newfound motivation from his Martial Arts work, he remained driven and decided he would complete his academic degree.
During this time, the 2nd Intifada was reaching a boiling point, and before Avi had a chance to matriculate, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield in Judah and Samaria.
Avi volunteered as a reserve soldier to be on the advanced team to enter the hot zone, successfully neutralizing terrorists while under fire.
Never losing sight of his goals, in 2002, after the completion of Operation Defensive Shield, Avi matriculated into Ariel College (now Ariel University) earning a degree with Honors in Behavioral Sciences and Criminology in 2005. During his studies, he took on a security job at a Tel Aviv pub popular with Israelis and Americans alike, Mike’s Place.
On April 30th, 2003, as Avi was on duty, two British- Pakistani terrorists from Hamas walked up to the Mike’s Place entrance. Avi had immediately noticed one of them as he approached and knew something was off. He calmly but forcefully refused entrance to the suspect, eventually putting his hands on him and physically walking him back from the entrance. And that’s when the bomb went off. Three people were tragically killed and many more injured. But if it weren’t for Avi’s decisive, quick and brave actions, the bomber would have entered the premises and killed many more. Avi saved dozens of lives that night.
Avi's first "words" upon waking in the hospital. He could not speak, but somehow managed to draw out what he remembered of the bombing.
Avi recovering in Ichilov Hospital
Since then Avi once again returned to IDF Reserve Duty, married, and became a father.
In 2017 he was awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence, the highest honor in the IDF Reserve Forces.
Today Avi lives with his wife Dana and their three children in a small town in Israel’s center, where he is director of the town’s security and emergency first response team. He runs workshops and trainings for soldiers, students, security and law enforcement, and gives inspiring lectures and talks to communities all over the world.
Avi’s injuries were so bad, when the medical team arrived on site, he was first pronounced dead on the scene. But Avi was not dead, miraculously he had survived and was rushed to the hospital where he recovered.
Six months after the bombing, much to everyone’s shock, Avi returned to work as a security guard at Mike’s Place, which had since reopened. He refused to let the bombing make him live in fear. He chose to take back control, and returned to where he felt most at home: protecting others.
Avi being awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence, the highest honor in the IDF Reserve Forces in 2017.
"He Defeated Death"
A news piece about Avi's miraculous recovery and return to his security job at Mike's Place.