Heartfelt soldier’s video asks parents to be strong and allow their children to continue gap year studies in Israel.

A gap year is a ritual which has originally been traced back to the religion of the Jews. Even though it was not highly practiced in the olden times, it has now become a very popular ritual amongst the young crowd of Orthodox Jews. A gap year is when the students take a year off before entering college in order to engage themselves in religious studies in Israel. This is often considered as a way of strengthening one’s identity as a Jew, and also a means to become more knowledgeable and mature before they set off for four years of college.

The practice is now under scrutiny after the killing of an 18-year old boy, Ezra Schwartz, by a Palestinian motorist.

Ezra, who was scheduled to attend Rutgers University the coming fall, was an American citizen from Boston who had come to Israel to learn more about Judaism. But fate had a different plan for him. He was shot by a motorist who opened a line of fire in front of dozens of cars in Gush Etzion, which is located on the South of Jerusalem. Two other people were also killed. This violence has been part of an ongoing war between the Israelis and Palestinians, with the body count increasing in number with every passing day.

Gap year students feel it could have easily been them who were shot.

After the murder of Ezra Schwartz, an Israel Defense Force soldier named Elisha Levy, who is 21 years old, posted a video on Facebook in response to the killing. In the video, which lasts for around three minutes, Levy talks about the murder of Ezra as well as the innocent victims who are dying every day. Despite the ongoing violence, he urges the parents to still send their kids for the gap year program. In his opinion, Israel is also a home for these students. As for the foreign nationals who are still in Israel, he encourages them to stay and complete their gap year program as well. For him, this is something which is an opportunity which presents itself only once in a lifetime.

So after hearing a few guys tell me they were considering going home or generally scared because of the recent events…I felt obliged to post this. Please please click share this needs to be seen by all the right people! help win this new war! Stay in Israel! keep doing chesed! Share!

Posted by Elisha Levy on Sunday, November 22, 2015

Elisha also tells the parents that even though it may be heartbreaking and devastating to hear the news of Ezra, this gap year program is something which needs to be done by almost every student. Since he was also a former student of this program, he understands its significance. Now, he can identify gap year students wherever he goes.

Levy said in an interview to The Times of Israel that it was very saddening for him to look at the scared faces of students all around him. He said, “They were scared and giving up hope. They said they were throwing in the towel and ready to leave Israel.”

In the end, Levy said that he was taken aback by the overwhelming response that his video received. He hopes this to be a platform through which he can spread more inspiring messages and create awareness.

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