He was the youngest of four, from a comfortable Jewish home, with loving parents who gave him everything he wanted, and he had always dreamed of being a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.

Then, last summer, three “lone soldiers” — an IDF term for recruits alone in Israel, often from abroad — died in Gaza. Their deaths gave this young Diaspora Jew the final push he needed to enlist.

“They put their lives on the line for us, for Israel, for all the Jewish people,” says the lone soldier, who asked to remain nameless. He is referring to Max Steinberg, 24, from Los Angeles, Sean Carmeli, 21, an American-Israeli, and Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, a French-Israeli — the three will be added to a list of more than 20,000 names when the country marks Memorial Day on Wednesday. […]