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'I feel Jewish.' Braun Photo: Shaul Golan
'I feel Jewish.' Braun Photo: Shaul Golan

Passionate Zionist leaves Greek paradise for IDF service

Ion Braun, son of Israeli commando, says he wants to live his life in Jewish state

Reuven Weiss
Published: 05.28.13, 16:34 / Israel News

When Ion Braun made aliyah to Israel in order to conscript to the IDF he slashed by half the number of Jews on his native Greek island of Kea. There are about two thousand residents on the island which is a 40-minute sail away from Athens. Braun and his father were the only Jews.


Corporal Braun received strict Zionist upbringing. "My grandfather was in the Palmach," he told Yedioth Ahronoth. "Dad was fighter at an Israeli commando unit, and he and his brother were among the founders of the Counter Terrorism brigade. After his discharge he worked as a security guard for El Al where he met a young Greek woman named Maria Vassilaki. That's how he met my mother."


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Ion's father Erez and Maria picked the pastoral haven of Kea as their place of residence. This is where Ion was born. "You can see the sea from every single window in our house," he says.


When Braun wanted to join a Jewish youth movement in Athens at age 14, he was in for a disappointment. "In order to be accepted you need to get a permission from the community rabbi. He checked my documents, and said I was not Jewish. 'But I feel Jewish, I protested, it's me you are accepting to the community, not my mom."


Braun, 23 now, made aliyah aged 19. Some six month ago, having obtained a degree in political science from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, he enlisted to the IDF where he serves as a non-commissioned officer at the coordinator unit for the Palestinian territories.


In spite of the pangs of nostalgia for the pastoral landscape of his native island, he is intent on living his life in Israel. "My dream is to end my military service as an officer, and then enter a Foreign Ministry cadet course. Who knows, perhaps I'll return to Greece one day as the ambassador of Israel."




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