Buffalo Grove resident returns to Israel to join fight against Hamas

A 21-year-old Stevenson High School graduate is preparing to fight with the Israel Defense Forces, after volunteering for service following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed more than 1,000 civilians.

Drew Silberman was at his home in Buffalo Grove observing Shabbat on Saturday when he learned of the assault across the Gaza border, said his mother, Lenna Silberman.

He previously served two years with the Israeli military, and already was planning to return to Israel next week to begin studies in international government at Reichman University.

“When he learned of what was going on in Israel, he immediately reached out to his (military) commander, who requested that, if he was able, he return to Israel,” Lenna Silberman.

Drew flew to New York Saturday night, and was en route to Tel Aviv on Sunday, After arriving, he was assigned to a reserve paratrooper unit.

“As we speak, his unit has been sent home to rest and to await further instructions,” his mother said. “So, he is not in active combat right now.”

Since returning, she said, Drew learned that his onetime IDF training partner, Binyamin Lev, was killed in an ambush on Saturday.

Drew first enlisted with Israel Defense Forces in 2021 and joined one of the army's elite units, a paratrooper group known as Tzanhanim. He finished his service this summer.

He has been living in Herzliya, a community on the Mediterranean Sea just north of Tel Aviv, but returned to Buffalo Grove last month to celebrate the Jewish holidays.

His mother said Drew has had a love of Israel since he was a child. As a high school student, he served as the Israel affairs vice president for the Chicago region of United Synagogue Youth, an organization for Conservative Jewish teens.

“He felt that it was his responsibility to help support the State of Israel,” Lenna said.

As he now awaits further orders, Lenna talks to him several times a day.

“Who knows what will happen when he's called back to duty,” she said.

Lenna also is part of an online community of moms of “lone soldiers,” as IDF members with no family in Israel to support them are known.

As for what comes next, Lenna said she is hopeful that those taken hostage by Hamas are returned safely and innocent people no longer are terrorized.

” And I trust the Israeli government to do what is necessary to make that happen,” she said.

Buffalo Grove resident Lenna Silberman, left, said she is proud of her son Drew for volunteering to serve with the Israel Defense Forces. Courtesy of Lenna Silberman
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