Making Michael’s Dream a Reality
When thousands of people arrived for my son’s funeral in Israel and a memorial service in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 2006, we knew Michael’s death had affected people in ways we were only beginning to understand.
My wife, Harriet, and I were left with a choice: Succumb to a crushing burden of grief or try to change the tragedy into something meaningful, something that would honor the sacrifice made by our 22-year-old son who was killed by Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War.
Then we met Sally Mitlas, an incredibly dedicated, talented woman who understood Michael’s passion for Israel. She produced an award-winning documentary on Michael’s life called A Hero in Heaven. This film has served as the catalyst to raise the consciousness and appreciation of the sacrifice young men and women like Michael are making in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Fundraisers, speaking engagements, and the documentary all help us raise money for our son’s charity, the Michael Levin Memorial Fund for Israel.
This fund was established to help other “lone soldiers” like Michael, individuals who left their families, friends, and countries behind to live in Israel and help defend it. To date, more than 5,500 lone soldiers proudly serve in the IDF.
Over the years, we have helped these soldiers in a number of ways. We began by providing new ammunition vests for Michael’s entire unit. We refurbished several recreation rooms on kibbutzim (collective farms) that house lone soldiers and have helped to create four major events for hundreds of these soldiers. The events afford them the relaxation, food, entertainment, counseling, and educational and job opportunities they so rightly deserve.
The most rewarding part of this endeavor has been to help make Michael’s dream a reality. Early on, Michael quickly realized that lone soldiers have special needs and face problems and challenges other Israelis do not. He knew because he immigrated to Israel all alone at age 18 and immediately became a lone soldier.
His vision was to establish a lone soldier center to cater to these needs. I am proud to say that—with the help of a very dedicated, talented, and passionate staff—along with hundreds of volunteers, there are now four centers up and running in Israel. Our ultimate goal is to raise enough funds to purchase a larger facility in Jerusalem to serve as a permanent home for the center.
As Michael’s dad, I feel proud and gratified to be helping to carry out his vision, even though he is not here to see the results. May his sacrifice and memory continue to be a blessing to all of Israel.