Training in the Israel Defense Forces isn't only about grenades and marksmanship.
It also brings responsibilities such as shmira—guard duty, spending time away from family—and pride, according to Alex Simone, a Pikesville native who is serving as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces.
"Almost all laws, including the laws of Shabbat and prayer, take on a different meaning when put in the context of the duty to protect human life," he wrote April 22 in his blog "ShalomYaakov in Israel: A Repository of My New Life in the Holy Land."
He also reveals how he felt celebrating Passover away from his family, and how Holocaust Remembrance Day brought more pride in defending the independent state of Israel.
"The day took on a whole new meaning to me now that I am in a position to prevent another Holocaust from happening," he wrote. "I know that sounds dramatic, but you wouldn’t have to read the news for long to see some Arab leader or Neo-Nazi perpetuating hatred and urging violence against Jews."
"My platoon commander said that 70 years ago, at the deepest depths of our history, no one on earth would have believed that a Jewish army could exist, let alone defend a secure Jewish state."