Simon Zauber and his brothers at his swearing-in ceremony .
(photo credit: SIMON ZAUBER)
Simon Zauber believes serving in the IDF is his way of following in Jesus’ footsteps.
“We were raised in believing in Jesus and to follow his footsteps and what he did was serve so for me it’s very important to serve, in any way I can,” the 19-year-old Givati soldier originally from North Carolina told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Zauber is a Messianic Jew, Christians who believe that Jesus, or Yeshua, is the Messiah and is the only path to redemption. There are an estimated 20,000 Messianic Jewish believers in Israel, but due to their beliefs have been subjected to discrimination, such as being ineligible to make aliya because it is not accepted that a Jew can believe in Jesus, even though they consider themselves to be Jewish.
“Israel is defending itself. It needs people and so I wanted to be in an army that actually needed somebody. It’s not as if I’m fighting on someone else’s ground, it’s a fight for survival. This is God’s land and this is God’s people and in the end I’d rather fight for God’s land and God’s people rather than in America,” he said.
His upbringing as a Messianic Jew had a major impact on his decision to come to Israel and serve in the IDF, Zauber told the Post, explaining that while he did not initially plan to come to Israel he changed his mind in the middle of his final semester at university.
“I felt that God was talking to me and that he was going to reveal something to me.
When I was opening up my scriptures I would always read stuff about Israel and then my parents started talking about Israel and I felt that God was calling me to Israel.”
Zauber is one of 12 children, six of whom have served in the IDF, including two who are currently serving. Four Zauber children are still in Israel, including his older brother – 21-year-old Asher who also served in Givati until his release from the IDF two months ago.
Asher said that his family would come to visit Israel often which instilled a love for the State of Israel into the Zauber children.
“Our family very much encourages [serving in the IDF], to go to Israel, to live here. Our parents would move here themselves and they very proud of every one of their kids who came to serve,” he said.
Asher told the Post that unlike his brother Simon, he was influenced more by Judaism and its connection to the state than his Messianic beliefs.
“My upbringing influenced me, but I don’t think it was anything special about Messianic, it was more Jewish. That I had a family and place in the world that belonged to the Jewish people,” he said, explaining that his belief in Jesus “just adds onto the love that I have for Israel with the responsibility as someone who loves Jesus.”
While Asher has been discharged from the IDF and will begin his studies in Haifa in the coming months, Simon told the Post that he hopes to continue his service and become an officer in the military.
“I believe that was God’s will for my life,” Simon said.
“By my serving and by my helping it will help other people to understand the love Jesus has for Israel. The same love that God has for Israel is also in me,” he said, stressing: “I’m so grateful to be here, to be serving.”