Baruch with his fiance Samantha

Baruch with his fiance Samantha

I met Baruch at a party organized by mutual friends of ours three years ago. We were celebrating his 27th birthday. The food was being passed around and people were toasting to another great year for this special young man.

I approached Baruch and asked him about his personal history. He told he was working as a chef at Mike’s Place, one of the favorite gathering spots for young Anglo professionals in Jerusalem, and that he’d served in the IDF as a lone soldier. Baruch made a very good impression on me from the go. He would prove his worth as a loyal friend whom people could always rely on for a helping hand or warm word of encouragement.

Baruch approached me yesterday and asked if I could help him with his wedding. Having loyally served his people and the country he loves, he now finds himself in difficult financial straits. Here’s an interview I conducted with Baruch:

Me: Where are you originally from and how did you decide to make Aliyah? Who were some of the people that were instrumental in making this dream a reality for you?

Baruch: I’m originally from Miami, Fl and I made Aliyah in summer of 2006. I came to Israel because in August of 2006 when the 2nd Lebanon War broke out, I was very displeased to see my fellow Jews getting killed and felt that it was my responsibility to come to their aid. I made a conscience decision to make Aliyah and served in the IDF to protect our people.

Me: What made you decide to serve in the IDF? What was your most significant experience there?

Baruch: Growing up in Miami was tough. In high school I joined the J.R.O.T.C and I knew I wanted to join the military. When I read about Israel in college, I got inspired and tried to learn more about the country of my ancestors. I’d always felt a connection to Israel, but that’s when I actually started learning concrete facts about our people’s history dating back to Abraham all the way to the founding of the modern State of Israel.

When I finally joined the IDF, I felt like I was checking off a gigantic priority off my bucket list of things to do in life. I felt like one of my biggest dreams was coming to fruition. One of the best memories of the army was when I was considered a Lone Soldier and everyone was very welcoming and proud that I actually moved here to serve the State of Israel and give back something to this special country.

Another experience I had was when I was in advanced training: my Hebrew wasn’t the best but I knew how to defend myself.  My friend and I were in back of a Merkava Tank fixing it. We weren’t aware of the fact that another soldier was in the cockpit moving the torrent to a 360 degree angle. When I saw the barrel coming close to us I quickly push him away just in time to save us both.  B”H I saw that just in time. Everyone was happy that things were OK. I was both happy and relieved that I had helped save a fellow soldier.

Me: How would you compare life in Israel to your prior experiences in the U.S.?

Baruch: Life in Israel is amazing and beautiful. Life in the U.S. is also good, but with challenges like any other place. Right now, I’m living in Sydney, Australia. I’m in university pursuing my studies. I’m majoring in Network Security. I plan on coming back to Israel with a degree not only to help my family, but my people as well.

Me: You told me you recently got engaged. What are some of the difficulties you’re facing as far as the wedding goes? What can we do to help?

Baruch: First off, thanks so much! I really appreciate your willingness to lend a helping hand. I’m extremely grateful to Hashem for allowing me this amazing opportunity. I owe a world of gratitude to my wonderful fiance for being there for me every step of the way.

I’m having a lot of difficulty finding employment because of my status. I’m a student here as well. The locals don’t seem to be too fond of students. I just set up a fund to help out with the expenses of covering the wedding. I understand that everyone has their bills to pay and their worries in life. I’m not asking for a lot, but please consider lending a helping hand. May G-d bless you and seal you for a year filled with health, happiness, and an abundance of physical and spiritual good. G’mar chatima tova!<

Here’s the link to the fund I’ve set up: