After a trip to Israel while a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, Max Steinberg, a native of the Los Angeles area, decided to return to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2012, and became a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade.
On July 20, Steinberg became one of 13 soldiers in his unit killed by militants in a series of incidents on the northern Gaza Strip. As described in the Jewish Journal, as the Golan 13th Battalion moved down a Gaza City street in a neighborhood dominated by Hamas, either rocket-propelled grenades or anti-tank missiles struck an armored personnel carrier, killing Steinberg and several others. At the time, the 24-year-old Steinberg was a corporal but was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
According to a Facebook post by Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, about 30,000 people attended Steinberg’s funeral on Wednesday, July 23, at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl National Cemetery. Shapiro was also among the speakers at the ceremony, attended by Steinerg’s parents, Evie and Stuart, and his siblings, Paige and Jake.
Late on the night of Sunday, Aug. 3, Jared Sichel, a reporter for the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal, tweeted out a photograph of an apparently framed letter, addressed to Steinberg’s parents, from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you after having learned about your dear son and distinguished member of the Israel Defense Forces, Max. Although I didn’t have the privilege of knowing your son Max personally, I have taken the liberty of reaching out to you since I noticed him wearing a New England Patriots cap in one of the broadcasted photos. He represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe. His dedication and loyalty to Israel have not gone unnoticed and I am sure he has left behind a legacy of which you and your family can be proud.
On behalf of the entire New England Patriots team, please accept our most sincere condolences as we are all profoundly saddened by his untimely passing.
He then added a handwritten note: “We are all Patriots. With love of our tradition and the people of Erez Israel.”
The photo Kraft refers to appears on Steinberg’s Facebook page, dated December 20, 2013. In the comments, one of his friends says, “Nice Patriot hat soldier,” which got a “Like” from Steinberg.
Kraft has extended some of his philanthropic efforts to Israel, including support for AFI (American Football in Israel), part of the International Federation of American Football, along with his late wife, Myra.
A note on the AFI web page says, “The AFI has a very special relationship with the Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots. Robert and Myra Kraft have been supporters of the organization for over a decade, sponsoring the national teams, tackle leagues and, of course, building Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. Without their love and support, American football in Israel would be far from where it is today.”