It is rare for the IDF to move an active duty officer from the front lines, and even more unusual to send him to the United States, but that is exactly what the Israeli army did last week by sending Captain Oron Kalmanzon to speak in a number of cities in collaboration with American Friends of LIBI, just six months after the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge.
In a whirlwind tour to minimize the time he was away from his troops, Captain Kalanzon spoke in six cities in six days. He spoke to audiences in Miami FL, Columbus OH, Livingston NJ, Fairfield CT, Boston MA and Washington DC. “It was incredible to hear what it was really like fighting in Gaza this summer” said LIBI USA Chairman Dr. John Grossman, “hearing Captain Kalmanzon was nothing like what you heard on TV or read in the newspapers.”
Operation Protective Edge was the first Israeli battle that relied so heavily on Lone Soldiers and Captain Kalmanzon spoke about the dedication and commitment that American born Lone Soldiers played in motivating the other troops. “I was especially glad to be able to speak on two college campuses where all the students I talked to have friends serving as lone soldiers in Tzahal” said Kalmanzon. “I learned a lot from the students at the University of Miami and American University. Sometimes its easier defending Israel in Gaza or the Golan Heights than on American college campuses.”
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In addition to speaking on college campuses, LIBI USA arranged for Captain Kalmanzon to speak at a law firm in Boston and three synagogues. Rabbi Elie Mischel of Suburban Torah in Livingston felt that his congregants benefitted from hearing from an officer who played such an important role in Operation Protective Edge, “Captain Kalmanzon is an inspiration – a soldier who represents the very best of the IDF and the people of Israel. His strength, humility and love for the Jewish people gave us confidence that our people will overcome any enemy that threatens to harms us. And his very presence helped us feel more connected to the heroes defending the State of Israel every moment of every day.”
A breakfast briefing at Beth El Congregation in Fairfield, CT was attended by Lois Petty of Christian Friend of Israel and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Petty said that meeting IDF Captain Kalmanzon reminded her of “the biblical David who was a humble young man but grew into a mighty warrior. His presentation was so effective you felt you lived through the war as he spoke.”
“Everywhere he went Captain Kalmanzon impressed people with his moving stories from the front lines. Even though the war has been over for six months, people had so many questions which shows just how connected and concerned American Jews, and non-Jews, are for the welfare of Israel’s soldiers” said Grossman. “I’m happy we had the chance to educate more people about just how strong and moral the Israeli army is. With army officers like Captain Kalmanzon, we can rest easier at night knowing that the State of Israel is in kind and capable hands.”
American Friends of LIBI is a volunteer organization supporting the social, educational and religious needs of Israeli soldiers.