Baltimore, MD – May 13, 2024 -  Faces of Orthodoxy is a social media initiative powered by the Orthodox Union. Launched in 2022, Faces of Orthodoxy puts a human face on Orthodox Jews by telling the day-in-the-life stories of diverse religious Jews through portrait photography, personal photos, and journal-style posts. Each season takes place in a different city in the United States. The account highlights everyday heroes of faith who share their journeys, struggles, and triumphs.

The mission of Faces of Orthodoxy is to expose the non-Jewish and non-Orthodox communities to the diversity within the Orthodox community while emphasizing the universal values we all share. The initiative also aims to inspire Orthodox Jews to be proud of who they are, what they do, and what they believe. Faces of Orthodoxy has become a supportive community and a positive space on social media that celebrates the individuality of the Orthodox Jews in our communities.

More than ever, we need to put a human face on Orthodox Jews. We need to tell our stories. We need to show the world that we share similar human struggles, overcome universal challenges, and live fulfilling lives in the modern world guided by the values and traditions of our ancient wisdom. Because if we won’t tell our stories, who will tell them for us?

Faces of Orthodoxy has partnered with Baltimore Jewish Life to reprint the profiles from the Baltimore season of Faces of Orthodoxy. Follow @facesoforthodoxy on Instagram and Facebook.

Tekoah, Israel - May 13, 2024  - “When I entered the reserves, I expected I’d be doing combat, since I served as a paratrooper in the IDF. (I grew up in Baltimore and followed my dreams to Israel – but that’s another story.) So I was surprised to be put in a search & rescue unit for fallen soldiers, to bring the bodies home. When I told my parents, they said my grandmother was the head of the Chevra Kadisha (burial society) in Binghamton, NY, & my grandfather took care of human remains in Auschwitz. 75 years later, I had a similar task. I knew it was meant to be.

10 days a year for the last decade, I’ve been training in search & rescue. I never thought I’d put it into practice. My unit was never mobilized – until October 7th. I was trained to do this work behind enemy lines. Which now had become Hamas territory in Israel! We went straight to Kfar Aza amidst rocket fire, went into booty-trapped houses, stepped around a dead terrorist with a grenade in hand. We went house to house searching for people. We even collected bodies of terrorists in case there’d be Jews amongst them – we found 3 hostages.

We’ve had trauma training that prepared us mentally for this. People wonder how soldiers are messed up. Together with my team, I went through an enormous milestone in my life. History went through us. And no one asks us how we’re positively impacted & the lessons we’ve learned. I happened to do CrossFit training a year before this war which prepared me physically. But we all share the same mission & that’s to be ready when you’re called up for duty. Mental strength is your ammunition.

War is the greatest teacher. I’m going to the US on tour to share my story & the lessons I’ve learned. My wife has a story to tell too. I would take my job of dragging bodies out of Gaza any day over my wife’s job of holding down the fort. This is the war story for the families of reservists.

I think my love for Israel came from awesome tour guides. That’s how I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I’m back at work at the best job in the world, helping families fall in love with Israel. I give kid-friendly, fun, exciting interactive tours. People ask how they can support Israel now. Come!”