Never let anything bring you down. Choose what you believe in and be confident in it. Never be ashamed of who you are. Be proud of all that you are.
From, practically, age zero, children have this advice drilled into their heads. As if it were the only important thing. Little do children know, it is.
Children grow up and their environments aren’t as warm, caring and loving as the homes they’ve grown up. The world can be cruel and will try to bring people down. It is, unfortunately, the reality we face. And so these children grow up and try to find the solution to the contradiction between loving themselves, and taking the worlds criticism thrown like rocks.
And then there comes this moment when this developing child remembers: I don’t let anything bring me down. I’m sure what I’m doing is right and good. I’m proud of who I am and all I stand for. And things start to change.
That’s not to say the world isn’t still throwing their criticism as if it has no mercy whatsoever, but reality has just changed for that child. Reality went from questioning all they believed in, to being more confident and prouder than ever before.
I had my swearing in (to the IDF) ceremony tonight and I feel like my entire history was the child and I am now the adult. Hatred has been thrown our way since we were born as a nation. Yet, G-d prepped us telling us we are the most important; that we have the most important job to fulfill and the weight of the world is on our shoulders (in the best way possible). He encouraged us time and time again.
And, now, here I am. Swearing in to the Jewish Israeli army.
I stood with my head held up high as soldier after soldier took their tanach with so much excitement, and screamed “I swear” with so much passion. You hear it in their voices- the “rocks” thrown their way for thousands of years. You hear the pain in their screams, and the pride in their words.
And then it was my turn…
I took that gun with all the confidence in the world, now knowing, unlike my ancestors, that I have an army of my brothers and sisters who are here to stay and protect our family. I took that tanach with pride knowing my grandmother’s family who suffered the “rocks” of the holocaust are looking down and saying, “we may not have made it, but you did. Never let anyone shame our name as they once did because, now you actually have the opportunity to prevent it. Now we actually have a Jewish army in the Jewish home of Israel to make sure our name will never be shamed again. To make sure we will forever walk around with our heads held high, proud. Proud of how far along we’ve come, proud of what we believe in, proud we never gave up, proud of who we are.
And so, as I swore in to the Jewish Israeli army, I felt as if I had come full circle. A circle that started thousands of years ago and I, a simple Jewish girl from Queens NY, have the opportunity and blessings to complete.