Forming a Connection

Blog image - Forming a Connection

The war has always been something far away.

In the US, I saw it on the news, on social media, in conversation. Here in Israel, I now see it in the people, the places, and the culture.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers are not “soldiers” as we know them in the US, going off to a far land to fight for American interests. These men and women are fighting and falling for their families and our freedom to live as Jews. When I see a post about a fallen soldier in the US, I continue scrolling. I’m so desensitized.

I began to feel tears well up in my eyes as my Israel Studies teacher, Jon, described the soldiers throwing back grenades, pulling families out of windows, and falling victim to the terrorists. He played the music of a fallen soldier; I thought about a friend who makes similar music. He told the story of a man who went back three times to rescue more people during the attack; I tried to imagine what I would do in such a situation. It seems impossible, yet it happened eight months ago.

My visit to Mount Hertzel revealed a new connection to Israel that I didn’t expect to feel: Grief. I don’t know any IDF soldiers in service right now, but I found myself feeling like I knew the ones laying within the ground in front of me. I felt a connection. I felt Israeli. 



16-year-old Ari Schwartzman is a rising high school junior, in Springfield, PA.