My birthright group lucked out. Seven Israelis joined us for the second half of our trip. Like every Israeli, these men and women had all served in the army. Josh and I roomed with Tolmer for a few days in Jerusalem. Tolmer is only 21 years old. He will marry his girlfriend of three months when he finishes with the army. Tolmer is religious and has never even touched his girlfriend, so he’s pretty anxious to tie the knot.
Last summer, Tolmer and his unit went into Gaza to fight Hamas. This unit specifically focused on destroying the multitude of tunnels that Hamas has dug into Israel. During the operation, he would spend five or six days at a time actually inside Gaza. The explosions of rockets and bombs were so constant that it became a part of everyday life. Being inside of Gaza was terrifying, he said. Israel was fighting a heartless enemy. These cowards fought a media war against Israel by firing rockets from schools, hospitals, and mosques. I could see the horror in Tolmer’s eyes as he spoke about the barbaric tactics of Hamas.
Israel is full of people like Tolmer. These kids don’t put their lives on the line when they join the army. Their lives are always on the line because they are Jews in Israel. Tolmer protects Israel and every Jew in the world on a daily basis. I thanked him for that.