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Omaha man serving as reservist in Israeli army wanted to 'fight for the Jewish right of existence'

Henry Ginsburg graduated from Westside High and UNO. He works in the tech industry when not on military duty.
Posted at 6:51 PM, Oct 25, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Henry Ginsburg is an Omaha man serving as a reservist with the Israeli Defense Force. Within hours of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks along Israel’s southern border, he was called up to serve.

“A lot of my family was wiped out during the pogroms and World War II. And so it just struck much closer to home being able to, kind of, fight for the Jewish right of existence,” he said over Zoom.

Ginsburg was the first member of his family born in the United States after they immigrated from Ukraine.

He graduated from Westside High School in 2008 and started college. Part of the way through college he considered joining the U.S. Marine Corps, but then decided to join the Israeli military after a Birthright Israel trip; a program for young people with Jewish heritage to tour Israel. After his active duty service, Ginsburg returned to Omaha and finished his degree at UNO. He moved back to Israel in 2018 to work in the tech industry.

He says he, “basically woke up on the morning of Oct. 7, already 7:30 – 8:00 a.m., watching the news, seeing what’s going on. Had a feeling that I was going to get called up.”

He was called up later that day and is now a soldier on the northern border of Israel. He lost a friend in the initial attack.

“A friend of mine from my army days was killed in Kfar Aza (a kibbutz) near the border,” he said fighting back tears. “Him and his wife were brutally murdered while they hid their twins — sorry — their twins, 10-month-old babies in the bomb shelter. Him and his wife were killed. Luckily, somehow, the babies stayed hidden, survived and were saved about 12 hours later.”

Despite the trauma, Henry wants people to know a range of political views exist in Israel.

“I can tell you that, despite me being in the Army, I’m absolutely a peace activist as I’m sure many of my soldiers are,” he said.

Ginsburg met Michael Friedman in an Omaha youth group. Friedman, who is in Arizona now, says he’s proud of his friend.

“It’s very impressive what he’s done,” said Friedman. “Picking up and moving there and making his own way…You say ‘stay safe,’ but it’s not a safe situation.”

Both men say they are worried about anti-semitic backlash because of the war. Ginsburg was hesitant to have his family talk to a reporter because he was concerned about their safety. Friedman says, even in Arizona, he’s careful about letting people know he’s Jewish.

At the same time, Ginsburg has received support.

“People that I haven’t spoken to in 15, 20 years, that are sending messages to see how I am. But it’s really brought us all together, which is a really beautiful thing.”

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