May 22, 2024
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Yom HaShoah to a Lone Soldier

I drafted to the IDF as a lone soldier on April 7. Speaking recently to my madricha from Mechina (pre-army preparation program) she said “מיכאל, אתה משוגע” – “Michael, you’re crazy” in response to me saying that I love being in שריון – the IDF Armored Corps, I enjoy being on a base in the middle of the Negev Desert, far from civilization, and I enjoy being in the field during the daily, half-day sandstorms. And you know, maybe I am crazy. But I don’t really think so.

Today, Monday May 6, 2024, is my first יום השואה as a soldier in the IDF. With all the training going on, I nearly forgot. However, last night, my commander sat my מחלקה down and started a conversation about יום השואה. He asked us the following question: “What does it mean ‘to remember’?” Those who answered said the obvious – “to not forget what happened.” While that is the obvious answer, it’s not enough.

When it was my turn to answer, I said that growing up in America with grandparents who are children of Holocaust survivors, I was taught that remembering the Holocaust means understanding that it can happen again. All it takes is one generation to turn on the Jews. That statement emphasizes why I decided to serve in the IDF. The IDF isn’t just an army to defend מדינת ישראל, but to defend all of עם ישראל, all around the world.

Every יום השואה and International Holocaust Remembrance Day we see on various internet platforms the memorial candle, with “Never Again” written below. It’s a nice message, but sadly, these days that message doesn’t have as much impact as years before. Go to any college campus in the U.S. right now with that on a sign and you’ll hear the echoes of Nazi Germany screamed at you, “Dirty Jew!” “Filthy Jew!” “Jewish Pig!” Clearly now, just remembering doesn’t seem to be enough. Clearly, we need to take more action in defense of our people, the Jewish People.

For me that meant coming to Israel and drafting to defend our right, as Jews, to exist – to prevent what happened 80+ years ago from happening again.

As the old adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” I ask you, what actions are you taking to ensure that “Never Again” means exactly that. Never. Again.

So, you can call me crazy for gladly eating food covered in sand some days, but it doesn’t matter to me because in the end I’m here defending my existence and my people’s existence. I’m putting action behind the words “Never Again.”


Michael Racer is a 19 year old from Teaneck. He is a proud member of the IDF’s 188th “Barak” Armored Brigade.

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