(May 17, 2019 / JNS) Every soldier who completes active duty in the Israel Defense Forces is required to report once a year for reserve duty, or in Hebrew, miluim. In addition to reconnecting with old friends, reserve duty provides a chance to take a step back from the chaos of day-to-day life and to reflect on the path that got you there. That annual return to service in defense of Israel activates the same powerful sentiment within me each year: a gratitude for the opportunity to strengthen the Jewish state.
I moved to Israel from California and joined the IDF at 19. I was motivated by a profound sense of duty to protect the Jewish people’s right to live safely in our homeland. As a second-generation descendent of Holocaust survivors, the words “Never Again” have always operated as far more than a slogan in history books. Rather, the concept of “Never Again” constitutes a personal call to action and moral compass that guides me to this day. Like so many in the global Jewish community, my family’s experience in the Shoah helped shape who I am, my journey to Israel, how my wife and I have raised our children, and even my career.
After fighting in the Second Lebanon War, I moved back to the United States with my family, settled in Los Angeles and found success in the private sector. It took almost a decade without being called for miluim for me to realize I had not outgrown this yearning to serve the State of Israel. In fact, my commitment to maintaining a stake in Israel’s future had only become stronger.
A few years ago, while chaperoning my children at a summer camp for the Israeli scouts, or tzofim, I was struck by the pure joy of Jewish children in America celebrating their connection with Israel. Right then, I decided the time was right to rededicate myself to standing up for my second home. That decision led me first to a leadership position with the Israeli American Council and next to my current position as executive director for the Western Region of the Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds.
It’s hard to fathom a more empowering or fulfilling way to advocate for Israel’s continued success than by advancing Israel Bonds’ historic mission. Since 1951, Israel Bonds has generated more than $42 billion in worldwide sales. Those proceeds have helped strengthen Israel’s economy to the point where it has emerged as one of the most impressive on the planet. At a time when one can be attacked simply for supporting the Jewish state, I am especially grateful to be serving it so directly.
I received my first Israel bond somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, and remember staring at the old photo of my grandfather at an Israel Bonds event standing next to legendary Israeli diplomat Ambassador Abba Eban. Now, all these years later, to be in a position where I am carrying the mantle for this vital organization is a remarkable honor.
The beauty of Israel bonds is that they facilitate a level of durable engagement through meaningful financial investments. If you believe in the future of the State of Israel, there is no better way to express that belief than by creating your own stake in that future. That’s why I welcome a $36 Israel eMitzvah bond with the same enthusiasm as a $1 million Israel bond; each represents a personal relationship with the world’s one and only Jewish state.
In my role as executive director for the Western Region, I hope to cultivate new audiences who are willing to be a part of, and expand support for, this great endeavor called Israel. And while I may not have to formally report for reserve duty anymore, I certainly cherish waking up every day and helping to secure Israel’s future by facilitating direct investments through the purchase of Israel bonds. I hope you will join me.
Erez Goldman currently serves as executive director for the Western Region of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds.