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Jerusalem U Blog

5 Ideas to Help You Have a Meaningful Yom Hazikaron Experience.

From nightfall tonight in Israel, the country will be commemorating Yom Hazikaron - the annual Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. For those of us in Israel, Yom Hazikaron is an intensely powerful, often emotional day. There are few Israeli families who have not in some way been touched by a soldier or victim of terror. Sadly, it is part of the national experience of being Israeli. For many of us living outside of Israel, it is more difficult to emotionally connect to this - there are no siren's or flags at half mast; People aren't sharing their  memories, and TV and radio isn't dedicated to Yom Hazikaron programming.

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Mekonen’s Story: The Global Dream to Belong

Jerusalem U is about to release a mini-documentary about the journey of IDF Lt. Mekonen Abebe. This film picks up on the story of one of the soldiers that we first met in the highly acclaimed documentary Beneath the Helmet during which Mekonen was a trainee soldier in the IDF's parachute regiment, under my command.

Mekonen: The Story of an Ethiopian Jew, presents both his history before joining the army  as well as his process of becoming an IDF officer himself and I am really happy that Jerusalem U has made this film, and that I was able to be part of it, because I feel that Mekonen’s story is an important story to share.

It’s not just the personal account of a remarkable individual, it is also the collective account of an entire community, the story Ethiopian Jewry.

Mekonen's story is perhaps bigger than even than that of his community or of Israel - it is  a univerals story, one that applies to any country grappling with the challenges of absorbing immigrants. It describes the process a person goes through to  integrate into a new society, while still remaining true to his or her roots.

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Occupation Lies and Legal Arguments

One of the biggest problems that the free world has to deal with today is related to the sacred concept of “Freedom of Speech”. This concept is a very important one; it provides many benefits to the societies that adhere it it. When people are free to exchange information, eventually the truth is identified and the correct course of action is taken. Unfortunately, this freedom is simultaneously trampled on and taken advantage of by wicked groups and even by governments around the world who have self-serving and evil intentions. 
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US vs. Israeli Campus Life

Hey guys, how ya been?

School is still great, and still challenging.  I’ve also noticed some interesting differences between university in Israel and The States.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting multiple campuses in North America, and am now able to compare them with campus life in Israel. The biggest difference I see is in the student attitudes: in Israel, it’s all about studying.

Most people show up, learn what they need to, and leave.

There is less of an emphasis on the social dynamic. A marked absence of the sororities, fraternities, and clubs that are a core part of college life in the States. Part of the reason for this, I believe, lies in the fact that students here are more mature. The average age of most students is 24 or 25, and by this point most of them have completed the army, and many have taken extensive trips around the world.

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Speaking up and Stepping up for Israel

Just as students head back to college for the fall semester, yet another report shows the increase in anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitism at U.S. universities: during the last academic year alone, there were 1,630 anti-Israel incidents on 181 campuses, and a 132 percent surge in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel compared to the previous year.

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Return to The IDF: My Experience As A Reserve Officer, & Meeting My Men...and They're All Older Than Me ! 

I finished my first stint in the IDF reserves about a week ago.   It was good to be back in uniform, serving my country again.   Israel relies on a large force of reserve soldiers to augment our standing army - after our three mandatory years of army service, Israeli citizens can be called up at any time for training and at time of war of course.

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Israel's Gaza Operation “Protective Edge” - The Facts

In response to the biased UNHRC commission report on the Gaza conflict, here are some facts that shed light on the unprecedented measures Israel took to avoid civilian casualties.


  • On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. This operation was in response to a dramatic escalation where hundreds of missiles were fired by Hamas and other terrorist groups into towns and cities across Israel, putting over 70% of the country’s civilian population in missile range.
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Ethiopian Immigrant Becomes IDF Officer: What We Can All Learn From Mekonen

Mekonen graduates from officer’s school this week.

For those of you who know his story, this is truly amazing. Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia with his family when he was 12 years old, and his father died hours before they boarded the plane.

He spoke only broken Hebrew when he enlisted, and during his basic training he nearly dropped out of the army because of financial difficulties he and his family were experiencing. As documented in Beneath the Helmet, we were able to raise the funds to help him pay back his debts and stay in the army.

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Connecting Jewish Campers to Israel Through the Power of Storytelling

This past Monday, I was privileged to speak with several hundred shlichim – Jewish Agency volunteers – who are about to fly to the States to be counselors at Jewish summer camps across America.

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Reflections of a Paratrooper on Jerusalem Day

Today is Jerusalem Day. Forty-eight years ago the IDF reunited Jerusalem under Israeli rule after being divided for 19 years following Israel’s War of Independence.

I had visited Jerusalem before I joined the army, but its importance only became clear to me when I become a soldier.

Around 30% of soldiers have never been to Jerusalem in their life, and the army does a great job connecting them to the city. It exposes them to the history, culture, and religious significance of this city through tours, weekend retreats, and ceremonies.

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