Excited, yet unsure of what can happen. Proud, yet, unfortunately, risking it all. These are the soldiers who are constantly fighting for our freedom. I am in Israel and at the cemetery, in remembrance of the fallen soldiers. With that thought in mind, I raise my glass to those soldiers who are preparing to join the Israeli Defense Force. Tears stream down my face as I watch family members light a torch to commemorate the loss of their loved ones.

One person that distinctly comes to mind is Michael Levin, a somewhat close family friend who passed away defending this country. As he once said, "You can't fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all." He fulfilled his dreams.

From this experience, I have learned that the nicest pair of shoes, nor the coolest iPod or cell phone, absolutely nothing is as valuable as one little grain of soil resting in Eretz Yisraelthe land of Israel. Tears continue to roll down my face, not only in remembrance of those who suffered through the Shoah, the Holocaust, and the fallen soldiers, but also because I am honored to be here. Just looking out the window of the bus at a bare field, I cannot help but thank my Creator for bringing me to the Promised Land. I am here not only to find myself, but also in replacement of those who were unable to make it here, and those who fell fighting for freedom. The vibe that Israel gives me is indescribable.

Whether looking at the views of Arbel or the Golan Heights, or driving alongside the Galilee, I feel proud. Not self-conscious of who I am, but rather, proud of my Jewish education, my Jewish heritage, my Jewish ancestry and lastly, my Jewish neshama, my soul. With Israeli flags plastering the walls of our bus, we make our way to the holiest of all holies, Jerusalem.

Never forget those that have fallen while defending our country. Be thankful for who you are, where you come from, and of course, be thankful for the Land of Israel, as it is our homeland.