Giving up fame of modeling to enlist in Israeli army

James Hirshfield in front of IDF enlistment office (Photo: Facebook)

A British-born international fashion house model who is Jewish quit his modeling job and immigrated to Israel this month in order to enlist in the Israeli army.

James Hirshfield, 31, is the grandson of a Polish Holocaust survivor. Hirshfield, who is employed by Hugo Boss, said he became interested in Israel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

“I was working as a model in the U.S. and they were always reporting against Israel,” Hirschfeld recalled. “I said to myself that I couldn’t walk on red carpets while my people were at war. I felt that I had to immigrate and enlist.”

From the age of 20, Hirshfield has appeared in international fashion shows, in magazines and on billboards.

“It was fun to travel the world and represent a company like Hugo Boss, but I decided that I wanted to stop my career and immigrate to Israel to enlist in the army,” he said.

This was more important to him, he said, than his modeling career – and even modeling in Israel if he gets the opportunity.

Hirshfield will have many obstacles to overcome including being older than conscription age, not speaking the language and leaving his family and friends behind. Hirshfield anticipates having no trouble having a commander younger than him. As for language, the IDF will enroll the ex-model in a military Hebrew course. Hirshfield is hoping to become a combat soldier in a reconnaissance unit.

While leaving family behind is difficult, the lone solder said that as soon as he landed in Israel he felt at home.

“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.”

The model-turned-Israeli patriot is not unique in becoming a “lone soldier,” the term the IDF uses to refer to soldiers without a support network in the country. Whether citizens, non-Israelis, orphans or have parents living overseas during the duration of their enlistment, some 5,000 male and female lone soldiers serve in the IDF currently. They are looked after by the Jewish Agency and various army programs and even get “adopted” by host families.

Some Messianic congregations are actively involved in adopting or hosting lone soldiers (both believing and non-believing), inviting them to their homes for Shabbat meals and making sure that they provide a strong support network for the young men and women willing to give their all to serve and protect Israel.

 

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Israeli-born Dee Catz is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, happily married with children. She has an interest in cooking and baking and all things Biblical. History, Geography, and Archaeology are some of her favorite hobbies, as well as touring Israel's national parks and landmark sites with her family and friends. She has been contributing to Kehila News Israel since December 2015.