When I was 12 years old, my dad gave me Leon Uris's epic novel, Exodus, with an inscription about what it means to be a Jew and with a note about our people's history. From the first time I read the name Ari Ben Canaan I've been hooked on understanding and protecting this dream. I have read every book, pamphlet, and article about Israel, Zionism, and Jewish history that I could find. I've read journalists I loved, I've read journalists that Menachem Begin would have deemed J.W.T.K (Jews with trembling knees), and I forced myself to read the mostly unfounded biases emanating from our detractors.
Over the years, my college friends (Jewish and non-Jewish) grew accustomed to me talking about Israel in between watching Lebron dunk on ESPN. Hatikvah emanated from my room before a workout session on more than one occassion. My friends stopped acting surprised when I argued with professors and they would always allow me to finish my thoughts on the way back to the house after class. They definitely learned to embrace my promises (bribes?) of food if they came to my Israeli club events. (Righteously or not, Kappa Sig always made their presence felt at Lehigh Friends of Israel, and as the saying goes, "we need the dues.")
Itdidn't take long for me to realize that my passion for understanding and discussing Israel and Jewish history and my commitment to do everything in my power (founding an advocacy club, writing a political blog, going to AIPAC) to ensure the safety of the Jewish people and the Jewish state wasn't fleeting or shallow. It wasn't a college hobby, or a fad that seemed interesting at the time. It was and is an essential part of my personal story . This was the start of my realization that the uniqueness of my passion called for an equally unique and significant way of doing my part and leaving my mark.