It felt strange. Just two months ago, I was living with my family in the Maryland suburbs, driving carpools, coaching baseball, watching football. Now, I was standing in an Israeli army base holding an M-16 rifle.
My family had made Aliya to Neve Daniel. A requirement of living here is that you do shmira twice a month. One Wednesday evening, I was approached in the Bet Knesset and told to come for training the next morning.
I had never fired a gun in my life, so it was a bit intimidating that my first experience would be with an assault rifle and that my instructor did not speak English. I do not speak much Hebrew yet (I am in Ulpan Aleph), and I had to figure things out by watching the instructor and getting occasional translation from a fellow Oleh.
Yet this is Israel. The beautiful land I live in has never come cheap. Doing shmira twice a month is a very small price to pay to live here, yet it is a connection to all those whom I admire so much who have shown the world just how valuable the land of Israel is to the Jewish people.