It comes in the form of my nineteen-year-old brother Chaim.

Friday morning, Chaim gently breaks the news to us: if the soldiers of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) were drafted into war, he would waive his rights as an only son to fight on the front lines.

“Why, Chaim!?” I questioned him, nearly choking. I was bothered by the fact that he would intentionally throw away the safety net the IDF had provided for him. "And why did you, a full-fledged American citizen, even have to join the Israeli army!?" I asked him out of frustration.

You want nothing more than to defend itFull of conviction and confidence, he replied, “Once you are here in the land of Israel, you automatically become attached to it. You want nothing more than to defend it.”

“At one time in training,” he confides in me, “I hadn’t slept for a full day, and it was forty-eight hours since my last meal. They had given us a can of tuna and a slice of bread to share with five other soldiers. I was basically worn out. Berating myself, I began questioning my own reasons for enlisting and coming here. Why would I do this to myself? Most of my friends were living the college party life, and where was I? I was halfway across the world, hungry, cold and tired. All I wanted was to see Mom and cry to her about how hard it was.”

And at this point, Chaim lowered his voice and continued, “However, when I got home that weekend and turned on the TV, the news was headlined with a terrible tragedy. A family in the settlement of Itamar was slaughtered by terrorists in the middle of the night.

“At that moment,” continued Chaim in a clear voice, “it all made sense to me. I came here to defend our land of Israel. I came here to defend my people. If every Israeli boy and girl had an obligation, then I was no exception.”

“He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our G‑d, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air and on the sea.

Why would I do this to myself?May G‑d cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under our soldiers' sway, and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is G‑d, your G‑d, who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.”


Strength! It comes in the form of my nineteen-year-old brother Chaim. An Israeli soldier.

By: Esther, a very proud sister.