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  • Tzippora Felsenthal

Viral Video Star Shares His Story

Finally tracked down this hero! A few weeks ago, this moving video of a lone soldier- Ben Krohn visiting his family, went viral on social media. I asked Ben to share a little with us, about why he decided to join the Israeli Defense Force!

"Throughout my 4 years of high school, I had invested myself in the idea of drafting to the US military. Coming from a more religious family and background, drafting to the US military would inevitably be throwing away my Judaism, and the way I grew up.

For me, I didn’t really care. I struggled in the Jewish education system for some time, and I wasn’t interested in investing myself so much into the religious community and observance.

As I passed through the grades of my high school, ICJA, attending NCSY, and other Jewish educational programs, my mind began to develop and mature more and more.

Although I started connecting more to different areas in Judaism, my mind was still set on drafting to the US military.

One day, and I’ll never forget this, my sister asked me a deep question. She asked me, “at the end of the day, do you think of yourself as being an American Jew, or as a Jewish American.” Meaning, what comes first, being Jewish, or being American?

For me, to answer that question was not easy. On one hand, I feel patriotic towards America and I wanted a military experience, but on the other hand, I’d come on a long journey with my Judaism, and to throw that all away just wasn’t an option.

I pondered on this question for a long period of time, finally coming to the realization that for me, my path might be to draft to the Israeli army.

I had never been to Israel, I didn’t speak any Hebrew, how was I going to pull this off?

First of all, when I announced this decision to my family, it was an incredibly emotional moment. Everyone was so supportive of my decision, and a little scared too. But for them, and for me, to go to Israel and draft to the Israeli Army would be an amazing Kiddush Hashem and honor to do.

I started my first year in Israel in Yeshivat Hesder Lev Hatorah. This was a great way to experience Israel in a proper Zionistic way and to prepare myself for the army.

In the middle of my Yeshiva year, we took a trip to Poland. On this trip, my decision to draft to the Israeli army took on a whole new level. Visiting Poland taught me that drafting to the army wasn’t just an “experience”. Drafting to the army was much more than that. It meant the pride and responsibility to protect the land of Israel, to protect Am Yisroel, my nation."

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