Note: This article was selected as a finalist for The Norman E. Alexander Award for Excellence in Jewish Student Writing Contest. About 60 high school contestants from around the country answered the following question: “Who do you think should be in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame?” The contest is sponsored by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame and The Jewish Week Media Group.
Picture yourself jeopardizing your own existence. Picture yourself frightened, frantic, fearful. Picture yourself traumatized from terrorism. Picture everything you cherish withering miles and miles away. However, this endangerment saves others. Now picture abrupt abandonment of this peril for refuge. Once in refuge, human nature motivates individuals to remain in this tranquility, ultimately uprooting the idea of ever returning to the hazard.
Someone in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame needs to defy this human nature, sacrificing their entire being for the benefit of mankind.
A Jewish-American who exhibits this greatness was Michael Levin z”l, a former member of the paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, who made Aliyah from Philadelphia in 2002. During the summer of 2006, Michael was granted permission to visit his family in the U.S. Merely two weeks into his stay, Michael discovered that war initiated near Israel’s northern border. Without hesitation, Michael concluded his leave and begged to rejoin his unit in Israel. He begged. Begged to encounter war, voluntarily, as he felt uneasy in refuge while his precious country suffered.
When he returned to Israel, Michael took part in countless hazardous firefights against opposing forces. It was then when Michael, barely 22 years old, fell defending the country he adored. His memory should be idolized as he risked his young life repeatedly due to his passionate love for the Jewish State.
When he began his army training, Michael had a fantasy of establishing an inclusive organization for the 7,000 lone soldiers in combat. He imagined a community in which lone soldiers would have a place to mingle, share stories and enjoy meals together. Following Michael’s passing, his friends formed the Lone Soldier Center which dedicates its time caring for the physical and social needs of the lone soldiers. Even after his death, Michael continues to help thousands of Jews because of his defying nature and selfless mind.
Yes, Michael served in the IDF. Yes, Michael was a skilled paratrooper. Yes, Michael completed years in the military. But what made Michael particularly outstanding was his willingness to help the Jewish people in any capacity. This should earn him countless spots in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame so his memorable story can be shared and inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
Rochel Itzkowitz is a rising junior at The Frisch School in Paramus, N.J.