What we’re fighting for

The normal sequence of events following getting married under the chuppah does not include being stationed on the Lebanese border and firing at Hezbollah positions. 

After all, as the childhood saying goes, “First came love, then came marriage, then came the baby in a baby carriage.” And while that third step is certainly a goal for me and my new wife, there’s quite a lot that needs to be done beforehand.

Chief among them is winning this war. That’s why when it was announced in my shul that there was a terrorist attack in Israel the morning of Simchat Torah on Oct. 7, I knew that my personal plans were going to have to be put on the backburner for a while.

Instead of beginning my second year at The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), where I’m studying computer science, I spent the beginning of the Jewish New Year in the IDF reserves. While I previously served in the Givati Brigade after enrolling in the army’s Hesder Yeshiva program, I wasn’t considered an official reserve soldier — my name didn’t appear on any list, and I knew if I wanted to serve, I’d have to make it happen for myself.

First, I followed my Givati friends to the Jordanian border where the situation on the ground was relatively peaceful. After a week of trying to be useful, the IDF sent me back home saying I wasn’t needed. I spent a week at home, then got a call from a friend serving in an artillery unit up north who needed men. I was completely inexperienced in artillery but if they needed help, I knew what I had to do.

My fiancée and I got engaged a month before this new topsy-turvy reality. I can’t say that celebrating our engagement while Israel was fighting for its survival is how I envisioned our engagement period, but if events post-Oct. 7 taught us anything, it’s that many things in life are beyond our control.

In between fighting, I did manage to get permission to go back to Los Angeles — where my wife and I are from — and get married in front of our beloved friends and family. Being in LA was a brief mental reprieve, but we both always knew that we’d go back to Israel no matter what awaits us there.

When coming back to Israel, I resumed my reserve service only to encounter another lifestyle adjustment as JCT began its long-delayed school year. Welcoming hundreds of students who just came back from the front lines could not have been an easy task, and yet, every instructor I’ve had has made it clear that our mental health is their number one priority. Professors have been accommodating with deadlines, scholarships for those who saw combat were given and we were greeted by a community who were grateful and understanding of what we’ve been through.

While I’m appreciative, I’m not surprised. This is exactly why I made Aliyah. I wanted to live freely as a Jew, where no aspect of day-to-day life would seem like an anomaly.

Davening in the middle of the street? Normal.

Dropping everything to serve your country? Normal.

A nationwide effort to integrate those soldiers back into everyday life? Normal.

Los Angeles, like Israel, is beautiful. The palm trees and majestic sunsets can be intoxicating. But I felt a certain emptiness being there, whereas in Israel every day I feel closer to Hashem and fellow Jews, because no matter your level of observance, we all collectively understand what’s at stake. It’s what we’re fighting for. 

About the Author
Daniel Frolich is a computer science student at The Jerusalem College of Technology and just completed his reserve service in the IDF.
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