April 9, 2024
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Lone Soldier Shares Personal Story From the Front Lines

The social hall at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck filled up on Tuesday evening, Feb. 6, as Teaneck residents came out to hear the personal account of an IDF soldier who returned from three months of service in Gaza. Levi S. made aliyah from London at age 20 and served for three years in the IDF.

Levi’s service included one year on the Gaza border, six months in the West Bank and Jenin and time in the Magen Tzfoni on the northern border. After his release from service, he embarked upon a career as a licensed tour guide. During the summer of 2024 and during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, just before the outbreak of Swords of Iron, Levi was hired by the Salomon and Parver families, children of Izzy and Miriam Salomon of Beth Aaron, to guide them through major sights in the country. The families were very impressed with his knowledge and personable presentations. When they heard of his having served so courageously in Gaza they suggested inviting him to Beth Aaron to address the community upon his upcoming trip to communities in the U.S. Through a powerful PowerPoint presentation, Levi related his personal story of “Gaza From the Front Lines.”

On Saturday morning Oct. 7, Levi was at home in Yerushalayim when rockets were heard overhead. As it was Shabbat and many soldiers were not near their phones, it took until 8 a.m. for the troops to be ready for deployment. At that point people were in disbelief about the magnitude of the war.

Only after three anxiety-filled weeks was Levi’s unit deployed to Gaza. Walking over seven kilometers, four of which were in sand dunes, they arrived after more than four hours. They soon became aware that the battle they were waging was multifaceted and had been planned ingeniously for years. The terrorists blatantly violated Geneva Convention rules by wearing civilian clothing and thus were unidentifiable as they ran from house to house. UNRWA schools, medical centers, and mosques were booby-trapped. Private homes hid underground tunnels originating in children’s bedrooms. Propaganda textbooks lined the children’s rooms as did puzzles and games spouting anti-Israel hatred. Young boys were being trained as terrorists in tunnels while reciting hateful phrases from the Koran.The civilian population was used as human shields and threatened if they did not accede to the orders of the Hamas terrorists. Those who attempted to leave through humanitarian corridors were prevented and turned back.

Throughout his three months in Gaza, Levi and his comrades were keenly aware of the efforts being extended to them by Jewish communities throughout the world. This chesed became evident immediately when the soldiers were provided with state-of-the-art military equipment to replace the outdated and worn-out equipment they had been initially given by the IDF, facilitated by huge monetary contributions and efforts from abroad. They were comforted by the knowledge that American and European doctors and physical therapists left their homes and traveled to Israel to treat the wounded on the front lines. They were greatly appreciative of the ongoing projects bringing them mobile showers and washing machines, sending large shipments of healthy foods, providing uplifting spiritual gatherings and top-notch entertainment. The personal pizza parties and barbecues hosted by visitors from abroad were overwhelmingly appreciated. Most of all, knowing that prayers were being recited on their behalf throughout the world in the belief that “b’yachad ninatzeach,” together we will be victorious, gave them hope and comfort.

Levi shared with his audience a long list of activities in which they could involve themselves on behalf of the war effort here in the US and abroad.

Among his suggestions was to stay in touch with individual soldiers and be sensitive to their emotional trauma. Stay on top of accurate information and spread the truth about Gaza. Support Israeli businesses in Israel and online. Contact and write letters to senators and representatives and attend pro-Israel rallies and gatherings. Continue coming on missions and volunteering where needed. Help local farmers rescue their crops. Connect and give strength to your fellow Jews, especially Holocaust survivors. Walk tall with pride in your Jewish heritage.

Levi’s sincerity and honesty in portraying the actual landscape of the war was appreciated by the audience as they expressed during the Q&A. Levi has taken upon himself the vital mission of sharing accurate information about the Gaza War in the face of damaging and false narratives from many other vocal groups in the U.S.

Upon return to Israel, Levi may again be called to serve. Hopefully, in time he will be able to return to his professional pursuit of touring visitors through his beloved Israel.

Levi can be reached through his website, www.tourwithlevi.co.il.

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