My wife, Sue, and I are new to Arizona, having moved here from West Chester, Pa., in August 2016. However, we are not new to Judaism or a love of Israel and Jewish culture.
But this is not about us, it’s about our daughter, Alexandra Simone Penfil.
When Alli was 9 years old, we went to Israel for her sister, Rachael’s, Bat Mitzvah. Looking back, I truly believe her decision was made then. She stated on that trip we were going back for her own celebration, and indeed we did.
Since then, I cannot count the amount of times Alli has gone to our ancient and holy homeland. She even spent a gap year there, on Nativ. Upon her return, she made it clear that, after graduation from Binghamton University, she would be joining the IDF. What was not yet clear to us at the time was her commitment to peace in the Middle East. She majored in political science (dean’s list) and, after her service, plans on a career in Israeli diplomacy. But first …
Alli is graduating this coming May, and is making aliyah in August, through a Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldier program. And her mother, her sister and of course, her father, could not be more proud. Alli is chasing her dream, which is a dream many of us share — that of a future with peace, when Israel and her neighbors can live together with love and understanding, instead of the hatred many feel today. And she is beginning by joining the IDF, the only army in the world that is named not an army but a defense force. In this time of world upheaval, more of that attitude is what Alli and I believe we all truly need.
Alli’s Hebrew name is Ahava, love. Sweetheart, may you spread love and peace, and may you serve proudly and return safely.
— Jeffrey Penfil, DMD, Marana