Big guns run in Zohar Kapustin's family tree. Over 70 years after his grandfather Yaakov Hazanov enlisted in the Red Army artillery, Kapustin, of Beersheba, enlisted in the IDF Artillery Corps last year.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post a few days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, Kapustin discussed growing up in Beersheba hearing stories of how his grandfather, who was from a small town outside Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), commanded an artillery battery during the German siege of the city in the Second World War and was wounded in a Luftwaffe bombing raid before rejoining his troops to fight against the Japanese in Manchuria.

Hazanov, the only member of his family not killed by the Nazis, moved to Leningrad after the war and met his future wife, who was studying in the city at the time. The couple lived with their children in Russia until 1992, when they moved to Israel. A year later, Kapustin was born in Beersheba, the first Sabra in his family.

When Kapustin was three his grandfather died, leaving only photographs, medals and tales of youthful glory to remember him by.

“My grandfather was the reason I went into the Artillery Corps, I grew up seeing all types of medals and pictures at home and this is why I joined,” he said.

As an only child, Kapustin had to gain his parents approval to join a combat unit, which he said took some convincing. In the end, he spoke to them about the benefits he could gain from serving in a unit that stressed mastering hi-tech equipment, and also drew on his grandfather’s legacy.

For Kapustin, Holocaust Remembrance Day has a special meaning not only because of the devastation caused to his family in the Holocaust, but also because his grandfather was part of the legacy of Jewish fighters who risked their lives to battle the Nazis.

Furthermore, beyond the connection to his family heritage, Kapustin said he sees the Artillery Corps as the right fit for him, and added a bit of boastful pride.

“There’s a saying in the army: God fights on the side of those with the strongest artillery,” Kapustin said. “This is where I want to be.”

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