Judaism has always been a big part of my life – religious school, Jewish summer camp, family traditions. But more important is how my parents instilled faith in me – explaining things, encouraging me to ask questions, to disagree, to think for myself. This gave me a sense of individuality and purpose, and a place in the world. I feel a sense of unity with other Jews, and a connection to Israel. We’ve overcome so much hate and destruction, and still face it today. This is why Israel is so important. I want to help protect our homeland, so every Jew knows they have a safe place.
My original goal wasn’t to join the army but to become an Israeli citizen and contribute to Judaism in a positive way. I came to believe that since everybody in Israel has to serve in the military, I needed to do that too, and that’s how I ended up a Lone Soldier. Most Israelis live at home with their families while they serve. I would love to do that and get to follow my dream, but I live on a kibbutz with other Lone Soldiers, mostly from the Midwest, so we help support each other.
I’m training to be a fitness instructor for combat units. I wanted a job outside, something active and physical. I’ve also gotten pretty fluent in Hebrew. It was part of basic training. My boyfriend is Israeli and doesn’t speak English well, so I speak Hebrew with him and our friends. It makes me feel even more Jewish.
Before coming to Israel, hearing about war and soldiers getting killed was sad, but it would pass and I would go on with my day. Now I know people who had loved ones die. On Remembrance Day, or when there’s an attack here or in the States, it makes me proud to be here, doing what I’m doing, and standing up for Jews everywhere.
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