Israel honors Douglas grad |

Israel honors Douglas grad

by Scott Neuffer
Special to The R-C

Top leaders of Israel will be recognizing a 2009 Douglas High graduate for his military service and contribution to the Middle Eastern nation.

Many in the community may remember Andrew Solomon, now 23, as the idealistic blonde-haired student behind the Douglas High Environmental Club, the same young man who participated in the Senate Page Program, attended President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, and gave a rousing farewell speech during graduation.

He left home the following autumn to attend the University of Michigan, where his Jewish faith and interest in economics, international studies and business led him to the TAMID Israel Investment Group.

What many in the community may not know is that after one year of college, Solomon joined the Israeli Defense Force and was accepted into a special forces unit. He is currently stationed at the Tel Nof Israeli Airforce Base outside Tel Aviv.

On April 16, Solomon will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Excellence Award.

According to parents and Gardnerville residents Jane Lommel and Arthur Solomon, the award will be presented by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. The celebration, scheduled for Israel’s Independence Day, will include a morning reception at Beit HaNassi (Israel’s White House), a flyover by the Israeli Air Force aerobatics team, and a nationally televised awards ceremony. Dignitaries in the government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be in attendance.

Also attending will be Solomon’s parents, who received a special invitation from the Israeli president.

“Andrew is humbled by this award as are we,” said Arthur Solomon.

The award, presented annually, honors soldiers who excel in professional accomplishment, personal responsibility, integrity and dedication.

“After a nomination process, a mere 120 out of 300,000 soldiers are chosen,” Lommel said. “The fact that Andrew is in an IDF elite unit, and is a lone soldier, factors significantly in the decision.”

Considering that her son is an ocean away, Lommel said she’s grateful that others are taking such good care of him.

“It is difficult to express the gratitude we feel for the support that we and Andrew have received from so many in the state of Israel,” she said.

She mentioned family friends, Tzofim Garin Tzabar, or Friends of Israel Scouts, Solomon’s immediate commanders, his adoptive kibbutz family, his mentor and others.

“Andrew’s journey on this path he has chosen was made possible and richer by that support,” Lommel said. “There is no way to overcome the feelings of having a child so far away from home, but knowing that Andrew has had the support of so many, who truly care for his wellbeing, has eased some of the anxiety.”