There is something inside many Jewish teens in America that calls them to the land of Israel.
Packing up and leaving their friends family behind in the comfort of the USA, independent young men and women are coming to Israel on their own and straight into army service.
Katie, a native of Los Angeles, was raised to believe in the importance of Jewish and Zionist values. It was also instilled in her to protect and defend the people and places she cared about. Immediately after High School graduation, she moved to Israel. Her request was to be drafted into a combat unit, and succeeded in joining Oketz, the Special Forces canine unit of the IDF. Two years into her service, Katie received the Medal of Honor for life saving when she (with the assistance of her canine tracker) found a bomb planted in her unit’s path while on a mission.
Nadav, from Shaker Heights, Ohio relates the hardships of the 18-month training he went through. Crawling over boulders and cacti, marching all night long and holding pushups for 10 minutes at a time, he begins to wonder what came over him to join the IDF. Not wanting to leave his sleeping bag, he knew that any minute the commander would appear as he does every morning, screaming that they have 2 minutes to be dressed and outside. Training for counter-terrorism involved surviving 5 minutes against a free-for-all of 23 men. His mind repeated the question – “Why did I sign up for this?” His conclusion: “Because it is the right thing to do. …Because this is not for me, this is for our Jewish people. Because this is for the 6 million who are unable to fight back.”
Many more are coming to Israel every year from America as well as other countries to join the IDF. They are leaving their former life behind, or at the very least, putting it on hold to do something honorable and selfless for the country and people that they feel so connected to.
It’s tremendous what they are doing, for themselves and for others. But sometimes these young soldiers (even the Israeli-born ones) can face loneliness and discouragement. You can be a friend to them and give a gift that acknowledges their sacrifice and dedication. Send your care package today.