This is the final dispatch from our Write On For Israel students during their trip to Israel. Write On For Israel is a leadership training program for high school students. You can find out more about the program here, and check out the program’s Facebook and Instagram for more updates from throughout the trip. Click here for previous daily roundups.
We began our last day in Israel by packing our bags and loading the bus. We headed over to the Michael Levine Lone Soldier Center and heard Saul Singer speak about his younger brother, Alex Singer, who as killed in Lebanon. He spoke of Alex’s dedication to Israel and how he utilized his free time in the army to immortalize his experience through art and writing. Additionally, a Write On For Israel alumnus, Paul Horowitz, who finished his service in the IDF two weeks ago, shared his experience of being a lone soldier. Afterwards, we were able to give back a little by packing bags with hats, T-shirts and toiletries for active Israeli lone soldiers.
After the Lone Soldier Center, we came to Yad Vashem. Rather than taking the traditional tour, we went straight to the Children’s Memorial. As we walked through the dark passage, surrounded by endless reflections of flickering candles, listening to a mechanical voice reciting the names, ages, and nationalities of murdered children, we grappled with the idea of one and a half million snuffed lives. After the Children’s Memorial our core Write On educator and guide Dr. Tuvia Book led us in a reflection excersise writing down our individual accomplishments we are proud of and our future aspirations. These 1,500,000 children each had things they were proud of and hoped and dreams that were never realized. We, however, have the opportunity to live lives full of hope because of Israel.
This opportunity to fulfill our dreams and aspirations with a homeland to where we can always return is made possible by teenagers our age who put their lives on the line. Some, however, make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the viability and future of the Jewish people. We faced this tragic reality as we paid our respects to the fallen soldiers at Mt. Herzl. There, we had the incredibly moving experience of hearing the story of Roi Klein, as well as the personal stories of two members of our group.
First we heard from our security guard, Nadav, who spoke about his closest friend who was killed in Gaza. While telling the incredibly personal story, all of us broke down in tears as we understood the emotional impact of being so close to someone killed in battle. We then heard from our peer, Sean, who told us about his first cousin who was a charismatic young man, full of energy and life when his life was cut short just several months ago. We saw the newest grave without even a headstone, attesting to the continued price we pay for the Zionist dream. As Americans we come from a different world: there is no mandatory draft, we are not fighting for our constant survival and we don’t mourn for our best friends; yet now we have an understanding for the pain suffered by our brothers and sisters in Israel.
As we depart tonight from what has been a trip filled with inspiration, new perspectives, pride and understanding, we strive to take our experiences to college campuses, advocating for the dream-come-true that is Israel. We look forward to sharing the story of the Jewish people with our friends–a story of a people who rose from the depths of destruction to achieve the success that is the State of Israel. And as young men and women our age sacrifice daily for the preservation of our national sovereignty, we too aim to do our part in defending the State of Israel on campus to ensure its survival in perpetuity.
Written by: Rachel Weiss, Hannah Vorchheimer, Alex Ostrin, Abigail Pomeranz, Mia Levine, Dalya Stokar, Casey Grafstein, Elijah Posner, Paige Weisburg, Heather Yung, Jonah Yochaib