His Family. Their Son.
Almog was born to Michal and Yosef Chai Shilony on the 27th of Tishrei, 5775 (October 2nd, 1994), 5 minutes after his twin brother Sahar. Lidor, the oldest, Sahar, and “Almogi”, as he was known by the family, would later be joined by Uriel and Tehila.
The Early Childhood Years
Almog was born in Jerusalem and lived there until he was two years old, when the family moved to Modiin. The character traits that would follow Almog into adulthood were already evident in his early years: he was quiet, shy, introverted and his words and actions were always moderate and considered. He rarely cried or yelled, even when hurt or injured. From a very young age he had the best interests of others at heart and thoughtfully tried never to worry or trouble anyone.
The School Years – Values, Principles, and Forward-Thinking
From 1st through 8th grade, he studied at the Independent Education System’s elementary school in Chashmonaim, a small town next to Modiin. He was known as a smiley, loving kid with a warm heart, quick to show affection. He was peaceful and independent, always trying to accomplish things on his own. His father described him as “quiet and attentive, with such a bright look and a warm smile that could melt any heart. He was always ahead in his religious studies. He would ask lots of questions because he really wanted to learn. He was insightful and scholarly. Moral, honest, persistent, and determined to succeed.”
Of the twins, Sahar was the one who stood out as active and energetic. It may have appeared that quiet Almog Asael was growing up in his brother’s shadow, but in the meantime he was developing his own unique character and outstanding personality. Almog and Sahar were often together: they shared a bedroom, studied in the same class, and loved going cycling with their father. Like many siblings, they fought between themselves but were always the first to rise to each other’s defense, and were especially attentive to each other’s needs. Like many twins, they even developed their own inside jokes and style of humor.
At the beginning of 9th grade, the twins began to follow their own paths. Almog Asael moved into the dorm of the Or Baruch yeshiva in Jerusalem and began to discover new talents. He was dedicated to his studies, and especially excelled in his Torah studies. The head of the yeshiva recognized his efforts, and Almog quickly stood out as a bright scholar with many outstanding and appealing personal traits. His lively sense of humor brought him many friends in the neighborhood while his magnetic personality earned him the respect of the community. Kids and young people gathered around Almog, Together with the son of Modiin’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Eliyahu Elharar, Almog impressed the community with his mitzvoth, leading children and young people in charity projects, including collecting and distributing holiday food packages for less-fortunate families.
When he completed 10th grade at the age of 16, Almog chose to switch to the Yedidya Yeshiva in Ganei Tikva, where he would be able to study a wider range of subjects and earn his matriculation certificate.
In those two years, he worked diligently to catch up to his new classmates in the sciences, humanities, and social studies. In the meantime, his leadership drew many of his friends to the new school with him. Almog Asael succeeded, and did well on his matriculation exams. Despite the difficulties involved in being away from home, those years built his character, bracing and strengthening his sense of responsibility and independence.
Because of his achievements in math, he developed a talent for applying Gematria, traditional biblical numerology, finding new layers of meaning to words, sentences, and entire verses. The community’s elders were impressed, and enjoyed discussing these things with him, inviting him to present his knowledge, which he did with his characteristic modesty and calm.
A Soldier with Values – The Army Period
As a child of the Shilony family, for whom love of Israel has always been a guiding light, it was clear that after finishing 12th grade and doing some volunteer work, Almog Asael would enlist and faithfully serve the country in the most meaningful and challenging way he could. His father and grandfathers had served as combat soldiers, and his two uncles had been officers. To Almog’s disappointment, initially he didn’t quite meet the required standards for the combat positions he’d hoped for, but he didn’t give up. He dedicated countless hours of work to improving his physical and mental skills. On a visit to the Nevatim base, he discovered the Negev Defenders platoon, part of aviation squadron ground defense, and was completely enchanted. He turned all his efforts toward being accepted into the ranks of the platoon as part of the Netzah Yehuda battalion for Haredi soldiers.
Almog the Warrior
On March 21st, 2013, after ten months of volunteer service, Almog Asael was drafted and underwent intensive training at the Air Force Infantry school, with the goal of becoming a skilled soldier for the Negev Defenders platoon. During the course of his training he made many close friends. He stood out due to his stellar performance in operations, as well as courses – particularly in the squad commander course. Almog Asael acted with determination to reach every goal with honesty and integrity. During this time, he also supported and encouraged his twin brother Sahar, helping Sahar choose the direction for his own military service.
Almog Asael quickly became the squad commander’s right-hand-man, further proving his own leadership skills. The soldiers of his squad testified that he never rested on his laurels and was always on the move, working to improve whatever situation he found himself in. Everyone knew his strong character, his goodness of heart, and his sincerity.
Almog Asael went out on one march with knee pain. The trek made the situation worse, but despite the intense pain, he never complained or gave up, and pressed on to the end, setting a shining example for his troops. He became a much-admired commander and a role model, with his good character traits becoming watchwords for both his superiors and his soldiers. Both his friends and his soldiers said that during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, they felt safe by his side during operational missions. He radiated calmness and optimism, especially during difficult times.