Legacy of an IDF Soldier: A Poem that Echoes the Heartbeat of Israel

Tragedy struck the nation of Israel as Corporal Hillel Nehemiah Ofen, a young 20-year-old IDF soldier, passed away during a training exercise. A spirited soul from Karmei Tzur near the historic city of Hebron, Ofen’s passing is a sharp reminder of the sacrifices that IDF soldiers, the guardians of Israel, are often required to make. A fresh recruit who had been a part of the Combat Engineering Corps’ esteemed Yahalom special operations unit for just five months, the loss of such promising youth is deeply felt across the nation.

However, amid this sorrow, an embodiment of Ofen’s spirit surfaced. The day after his funeral, a moving poem titled “I Belong” was shared by Tsur Ehrlich, a renowned writer and journalist. This poem, discovered in Ofen’s backpack, serves as a poignant testament to his profound connection with his identity, people, and homeland.

Ehrlich, profoundly touched by the words, asserted that this poem, in its graceful simplicity, captures an eternal truth. The sentiment “I belong” reverberates not just as mere words but as an affirmation of deep-rooted belonging, identification, and commitment.

Here is the soul-stirring poem that encapsulates the spirit of Israel:

“I belong! To family, community, society, and nation. To the country, the homeland. To humanity, conscience, and honor. To history, the future. To joy, pain, expectations, and fear. All that has shaped me, my people, My identity, my essence, It is to these that I belong. And so, I vow to preserve, protect, and uphold, For now, I belong to the mission, To the weapons, to the victory, to the battle. I belong.”

The resonating words of Corporal Hillel Nehemiah Ofen reflect the heart and soul of every Israeli citizen, emphasizing a commitment to preserving the legacy and ensuring the future of the nation. In such trying times, Israel remains a beacon of hope, unity, and determination. It’s these very values that have held and will continue to hold the nation together. Through stories like Ofen’s, we are reminded of the passionate spirit and unyielding strength of the Israeli people. Let’s take a moment to cherish and celebrate Israel, its heritage, its soldiers, and its ever-enduring spirit.