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  • Writer's pictureJamie Rothberg

The Man You Need to Know

"Fall in love with the journey, not the destination."

-Leibel Mangel

Trump is currently visiting Israel. So to put everyone in a better mood, I give you Leibel Mangel.

I came across Mangel when I was sitting in bed going through all forms of social media. I had practically opened and closed every app and so naturally, I did what any other person would do: opened up Instagram and went to the "search page." You know? The videos that Instagram knows you like because they know everything about you? Yeah, I go through those.

"@Leibel_Mangel" showed up as the Israeli I had yet to follow. Because I lived in Israel for a year, I have a lot of Israel pride videos, people, and events pop up every now and then. There was a link to a video a soldier surprising his family in Ohio after not seeing them for quite some time.

And because I have newly noticed that I have no shame in Instagram - messaging people I find interesting or inspiring, I reached out to Leibel.

Some background for those of you who have no idea who I am talking about: Leibel Mangel is a 24 year old who was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hew grew up in an orthodox religious household, attending multiple orthodox schools away from home. When he was sixteen, he enrolled in his local public school.

After high school he left home and went to his other home: Israel. College was skipped.

So what does one do after stepping foot in the Holy Land? One joins the army.

"Serving in the IDF (Israel Defense Force) was an experience of a lifetime," Mangel told me. "It really forces you to grow up, and makes you appreciate the amazing things life has to offer. Even the small things, like a solid nights sleep and a warm meal."

I wanted to know what a typical day was like as a soldier, but there isn't one. The soldier side of Mangel told me how "every day brings new challenges and obstacles to overcome."

Of course, we have to diminish every Jewish mother's worry: lack of safety. But Mangel quickly shuts that auto-thought down. "There was never a day or time that I felt frightening or scared. Some days or some missions were more intense than others, but that really just depended on where we were stationed, and what was going on at the time."

After serving in the IDF, Leibel Mangel learned how to juggle. Not with balls, but with his multiple passions. If you venture over to his Facebook page, he proudly describes himself as a Combat Vet, Public Speaker, Israel/IDF Activist, and Krav Maga Instructor. Just reading that sentence overwhelms me. I wanted - nay, needed - to know how he could balance all of his talents without going crazy.

"If you are passionate about things and enjoy doing them, why limit yourself?" He explained how everything in life is all about balance.

And Mangel followed his passion. He has been constantly traveling and speaking at different universities. For four months, Mangel traveled throughout the US, explaining that he "is young, so why not push myself to the limit? I believe it is all important and meaningful work, and I really enjoy it."

Which brings us to the very video that gave me chills.

I needed to know the story of this video because it was the most adorable three minutes of reuniting.

"I got permission from the military to go home, so I figured why not make a surprise out of it." Mangel admits that he loved watching soldiers surprise their families on YouTube, so he wanted to be a part of it as well. The only person he told was his older brother, to make sure the timing was appropriate.

The jokester in Leibel wanted to make it even more exciting. "I told my family I wasn't going to be in contact for a while, because we were heading out on some dangerous mission."

You guessed it: Mangel's mother was very nervous. Leibel calmed her nerves over the phone, telling her he'll be okay and "12 hours later, I showed up at the front door!"

Watch the whole thing, it doesn't disappoint.

Leibel Mangel may only be 24, but he is a huge advocate for Israel and wants others to see the importance of strong Jewish and Israeli pride. "I have spoken at over 30 college campuses and Jewish communities. Having pride in who we are is the key to everything."

Mangel uses his story, hoping he can inspire others to become leaders in their own communities. And while being a public figure slightly overwhelms Leibel, he knows that people look up to him and he has a "responsibility to act and lead in an appropriate manor."

After living in Israel, I learned that it is extremely important to let people know what is currently going on in Israel. Not what the media says, but the truth behind it all. Mangel obviously has a much higher status than I do, so I asked him how he is able to shed light on everything about Israel that people aren't aware of in the states.

"I have first hand experience and knowledge of things that most people don't. People need to stop listening to what they see or hear on the news and in the media and general. It could not be further from the reality." Mangel's passion is painstakingly clear as he describes who he is and where he came from.

"Jew hatred has been around forever, and Israel is just the latest way people have found to try and get away with it. I now have a platform where I can reach people on a larger scale and help them see that. That is my goal and mission. There are no people like the people of Israel. There is no military like the Israeli Defense Forces."

And right he is.

To find Leibel Mangel, check out his Instagram and Facebook pages.

Instagram: @leibel_mangel


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