IAF lone soldiers celebrate the Jewish New Year

Pvt. Keren Ben-Yehuda, a lone soldier from the U.S, shares her story

Date: 27/09/2011, 11:04 AM     Author: IAF Website

The Israeli Air Force has 600 “Lone Soldiers” currently serving in its ranks, which left behind their families and homes in favor of the difficult and unknown.

150 of these soldiers toasted the Jewish New Year on Sunday (September 25) with their commanders, Personal Affairs staff and the IAF Commander at the Air Force House.

“I miss my family and friends constantly. But it’s nicer to celebrate the Jewish holidays here in Israel”, said Pvt. Keren Ben-Yehuda (20), a recently certified Aerial Operations Room Worker and a lone soldier.

“In the U.S, I would go to school, come back home and someone would offhandedly say something like, ‘It’s Rosh Ha’shana tomorrow.’ Here, the entire country celebrates at the same time and greetings are written on signs on buses, on the street, it feels like home. A home I want to protect,” explained Pvt. Ben Yehuda.

Her parents still living in the U.S, Pvt. Ben Yehuda lives in Israel on her own.

“I moved from Israel to St. Louis, Missouri, in the first grade”, said Pvt. Ben-Yehuda, “And I’ve been saying that I’m going to come back ever since”.

Pvt. Ben Yehuda maintained a strong emotional bond to Israel although she lived most of her life in St. Louis, Missouri.

“When I grew up, I understood that my bond came from my love for the culture and the variety of behaviors. The people here are more free-spirited, more authentic, part of the one small Jewish state,” she said.

She soon realized she wanted to partake in the efforts to keep Israel safe, and decided to enlist in the IDF (Zahal).

“I think it’s immensely important that we have our own state. And I definitely felt that I should not take it for granted that people go into war to protect it”, she said. “I couldn’t just come to visit and enjoy it without taking part in the fight to make sure this place continues to exist”.

Pvt. Ben Yehuda is a part of a program that prepares American teens that chose to move to Israel for their military service.

“I felt that if my grandparents came here, along with many others, they must have made a tremendous effort and I need to stay here. I want to have children and grandchildren that will be Israeli,” she explained.