BY JOHN MCCURDY / AJT Managing Editor //

On the battlefield, the IDF’s Daniel Hezi has fought for Israel’s security as part of the Golani Brigade’s elite Egoz Reconnaissance Unit. He and his team have undertaken dangerous yet critical missions in hostile territory to ensure that the Jewish State persists.

Daniel Hezi (far right) led his team, an elite unit in the Golani. Today, he leads the way in the classroom. PHOTO/courtesy FIDF Atlanta

In the courtroom, Hezi will fight for the best possible outcomes for his clients as a family lawyer. Inspired by his own experiences growing up in a one-parent household, he wants children in similar situations today to have every opportunity for normal lives.

What will help him get from Point A to Point B – that is, provide the education necessary to transition from an army bunk to the judge’s bench – is the Friends of IDF’s IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which links eligible combat soldiers with American donors so that Israel’s future leaders can enjoy the benefits of higher education and truly realize their potential.

The Cost of Service

Hezi, now 25, was born in Bet HaTikvah. His parents divorced when he was 10, and because his father did not pay child support for either him or his brother, Daniel’s mother was forced to work two jobs to provide for her sons.

Despite the difficult home situation, Hezi showed potential in school. Then, when it came time for his military service, he chose to follow in the footsteps of his elder sibling and took on the difficult training and selection process of the Egozim, who specialize in guerilla and anti-guerilla warfare.

Since his acceptance to the unit, he has participated in numerous successful operations, including the Second Lebanon War and Operation “Hot Winter.” One particular mission took him and his team into Gaza in search of terrorists in 2008, and while the objective was completed, Daniel paid dearly.

“My friend – my best friend, who was right next to me – was killed in the first round of fire,” Hezi said. “It was a shock for me to see that, but we learned in the army that there is time to cry and there is time to fight, and this was the time to fight.”

With a mature outlook on life and war experiences under his belt, Hezi emerged galvanized from his full-time service and all the more convinced to pursue his professional dreams.

Strengthened by the Fire

Brimming with determination and aptitude, only one necessary resource was lacking to enable Daniel to study law: funds. Certainly, a single mother at home and the small amount of pay received by IDF soldiers couldn’t be expected to pay for post-secondary schooling.

But that’s where the FIDF and IMPACT! come in. Hezi was an excellent candidate for the program that recognizes the potential in young veterans and gives them the gift of college or university.

“The name IMPACT says a lot about what the program is,” Ginny Adams, Development Associate at FIDF Atlanta, said. “When we speak about higher education in Israel, it’s really the privileged people who get to go to college. What IMPACT does is to offer a scholarship to combat soldiers.

“They have to show financial need, they have to show academic potential, and they have to show that they have a plan. But this gives the chance for an American to impact not just an Israeli soldier’s life but also add to the culture.”

Today, Daniel is in his second year of law school. As part of his scholarship, he volunteers once a week by visiting with an elderly Holocaust survivor; the two have become very close, and for that opportunity – not to mention the chance to follow his dream career path – he is most grateful.

“You [as a donor to the FIDF] have the power to help make something, Hezi said. “In Israel, we need your support; we need the American people.”

The FIDF is the only organization in America that supports Israel’s soldiers directly. Donors make it possible for the men and women of the IDF to have more than just food and a bed; all recreational facilities, synagogues, libraries provided to soldiers are made possible by the FIDF. Visit fidf.org for more info.