Benton Harbor resident fighting for Israelis

Benton Harbor, Mich. The fighting between Israelis and members of Hamas has been going on since 2006 with little to no help from the United States. However it doesn't mean Americans aren't involved in the war.

Daniel Ravitch of Benton Harbor traveled to Israel as a 17-year-old with his Pro Israel camp. He decided he wanted to stay there and become an Israeli citizen, which meant he would have to serve 20 months in the Israeli military.

"I was standing in the middle of a street and he said I'm becoming an Israeli citizen," Julie Ravitch, Daniel's mom said. "And I burst our crying really loud. It didn't go over well. I felt like I lost my son, like once I went home I would never see him again."

Daniel's parents say he is a pretty peaceful and calm person so serving in the military would be tough.

"He decided he wanted to get into the Iron Dome which is a missile defense system," David Ravitch, Daniel's father said. "It's a way he could be a combat soldier but do something that is absolutely defending Israel because they can't use the missiles for offense, just to protect Israel."
And Daniel is thriving in the Israeli Military. His father says he just finished his commander's course to become a Sergeant and is fluent in Hebrew.

"He's doing so well that they want to make him an instructor to teach the new Iron Dome soldiers," David Ravitch said.

While he is not on the front lines, fighting an enemy face to face, Daniel is still in an extremely dangerous place serving in the military.

"Hamas can fire rockets from Gaza and then Hezbollah has fired rockets from the north," David Ravitch said. "There's no place in Israel that's 100 percent safe from these terrorist's rockets."

But his family is able to communicate him multiple times a day. However, it's when the conversation ends that is hard on Mrs. Ravitch.

"You hang up and go back to reality and cry," Julie Ravitch said. "But I have to let him know that I support him because if I don't then he's thinking about me."

However, the fear they may have does not get in the way of the pride they have for their son and the cause he is defending.

"I'm beyond proud of my son," David Ravitch said. "I support what he's doing and I support what Israel is doing because nobody would put up with this."

Daniel is a little over halfway through his service time. He will finish February 9, 2015 and his family says he will get his degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Then he will return home to get a Master's in Jewish Communal Leadership.

Julie Ravitch said, "I would rather he were here but I understand that he needs to do what he feels is necessary."


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