Uzi Hangadi, 27, has just opened a new chapter in his life. This past weekend, Hangadi made aliyah from the United States and went directly to the IDF enlistment office, on his way to an elite IDF unit. This was the fulfillment of a dream that began with a promise to his dying father and continued through years of Zionist activity opposing acts of anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Hangadi’s life story turned him into a young man brimming with motivation and commitment. His parents divorced when he was a child. His father made aliyah, but he stayed with his mother in Los Angeles. Hangadi’s father would constantly urge his son to make aliyah and enlist in the army, but Hangadi knew he couldn’t leave his mother, who was suffering from ALS.
When Hangadi was 19, he came to Israel to say goodbye to his father, who was dying of cancer. He was with his father in the latter’s final days, and promised him he would move to Israel and join the IDF. About six months after his father passed on, Hangadi’s mother also died.
Hangadi realized that his father’s dream was also his own wish. As a standout pro-Israel activist in college, he experienced numerous instances of anti-Semitism. Pro-Palestinian activists sent him death threats in anonymous messages and on Facebook. Hangadi says: “I realized that the problem was that a lot of people didn’t understand the reality that the residents of Israel experience, but the more I worked to [make] them understand the facts, the more threats I got.”
At age 27, Hangadi decided it was time to make aliyah and make a home in Israel. He did so with the assistance of the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund.
“This is an exciting story about realizing the Zionist dream,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, founder and CEO of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
During and after his IDF service, Hangadi plans to continue serving the state in the public diplomacy arena and help strengthen its international image.
“I felt that I was destined to make aliyah. That was my dream, and I mean to devote my life to [advocating for] Israel. Not from the U.S. this time, but from my home in Israel,” he said.