A new IDF lone soldier left behind a successful modeling career to join the Israeli military because protecting the Jewish state took priority for him.
James Hirshfield, a British native who immigrated to Israel from the US, leaving behind a successful modeling career with “Hugo Boss,” joined the IDF at the age of 31.
Hirshfield’s grandfather is a Holocaust survivor who fled Poland at the age of nine, Ynet reported. During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, “I was working as a model in the US, and they were always reporting against Israel. I said to myself that I couldn’t walk on red carpets while my people was at war. I felt that I had to immigrate and enlist,” the grandson said in an interview.
Hirshfield’s family had trouble understanding his decision to leave everything and immigrate to Israel, according to Ynet. “They told me that I’m a successful path and it’s a shame to waste it.”
As soon as he landed in Israel, he felt at home, the report continues. “Everyone opened their arms and embraced me. They always make me feel like I belong. It’s a dream come true. I want to have a family here and be the best soldier that I can be.”
Hirshfield originally faced resistance from the IDF due to his age. “I received ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no,’” he told The Jerusalem Post in another interview.
Due to his continued persistence, Hirshfield became an IDF soldier last week and started basic training. Although committed to only a year and a half of service – most serve for three years – Hirshfield plans to remain in the army and attend officers’ school.
‘I Couldn’t Live Outside of Israel’
“I decided I couldn’t live outside of Israel while there are 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds protecting and giving their lives to defend the country that – if something were to happen – me and my family would go to,” he told the Post.
“It was something I understood I had to leave behind – it was an experience I can learn and grow from, but it was much more important for me to come to Israel,” he explained.
“I hope that I’ll be able to inspire people in Israel and all around the world to know what Israel stands for and how important it is to be here – and that without an army here, there might not be a country,” he said.
“If perhaps something didn’t kind of start a fire in my heart that made me come to Israel, there’s a chance I might have carried on modeling,” he said.
Each year, hundreds of young Jewish men and women from the Diaspora make the brave decision to serve in the IDF. They are among Israel’s “lone soldiers,” as they have no immediate family in the country.