Reading Israel

Tags: Books, Terror, Youth, Parents

Alex: Building a Life

The Story of an American Who Fell Defending Israel

Alex Singer was killed in battle with terrorists in Lebanon in 1987 on his 25th birthday, not quite three years after he had made aliyah. Alex affected many people during his life — by his words, his writing, his art, but most of all by his personal example and action. Alex's joy in life and his integrity in pursuit of his ideals inspired all whom he touched. His mission was to protect Israel, his home, and to help build there a Jewish state able to face the challenges of a modern world, and to demonstrate the light that Judaism can bring to people's lives.

Alex: Building a Life: The Story of an American Who Fell Defending Israel – is a touching and inspiring story using his letters, journals, and drawings. The book follows him during his years as a college student through his maturing as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. They offer insight into his becoming an adult, his evolving commitment to his faith in Judaism, and his fears and struggles through basic training, serving on the northern border, and finally becoming an officer.

Not only was Alex Singer a great human being -- and though young, he was great -- he was also a gifted writer and artist. These letters, diary entries and drawings are quite simply riveting. Whether your interest is Israel, the development of a sensitive young mind, Judaism or God, you will never forget Alex: Building A Life. Read it and laugh and cry. In other words, read it and live a remarkable life that was cut short.


Educators in Jewish schools, summer camps, Hillels, Birthright and other Israel experience programs have come to know Alex’s story and realized the power of his words to engage young Jews. Alex asked himself many of the questions they are asking themselves: What actions can create a meaningful life? How does Jewish identity impact my perceptions of meaning? What is the nature of my relationship to Israel and what are my responsibilities to it as a Jew? How do I feel about the concepts of Homeland and Diaspora? Is aliyah an option? Joining the IDF?

The intention of the educational guide is to provide a format for educators, in formal and informal settings, to use the letters and journals Alex wrote about his experiences to trigger reflection and growth of young adult Jews. We hope that it will be useful to a wide range of educators to inspire and cultivate the next generations of dynamic Jews.


  • This book had a huge effect on me. The life of an ordinary man, reaching maturity, making important decisions in his life, described in his own words. The reality of his death does not hit you until the very end, despite knowing it will happen. Alex Singer was a true hero; he tried always to do 'the right thing' and acted always with pure intentions. The struggles of changing cultures comes out very clearly, as does his determination to live life to the fullest and commit to his nation and country. The world lost a great spirit when Alex was killed. He gave his life for his country, and he will not be forgotten. Everyone should own a copy of this book. By Deborah M
  • Alex Singer was an American Jew who volunteered to fight in the Army of Israel. He did this because he believed in the Jewish's people's need for , and right to a historical homeland. He during his period of service acted with courage and real human consideration of others. He was not a hater but a person who sought peace, and the human face of the enemy.

    He represents the best of the Jewish people in their struggle to return and build their ancient homeland . He embodied the highest both in humane consideration and dedication to Jewish ideals.

    This volume of his letters collected posthumously by his parents tells of his story and struggle in a deeply moving way. By Shalom Freedman
  • Of the many published diaries, memoirs and letters I've read this is by far the best that I've read. Not only in the quality of the writing but in the quality of a life that was lived. Mr. Alex Singer showed maturity, introspection and a self-awareness that went well beyond his years. In his letters we read of the genuine warmth he had for his family. We find out that in his short life he accomplished much that would take many of us much longer to accomplish if at all! Read this book not only to enjoy but to learn and also to mourn of a life that was far too short. One wonders what he would have accomplished had he lived. Once again, read this book. You will not regret it. I couldn't put it down! By Frank Desparrois


  1. Alex’s parents meant for this book to not be just the story of a life cut short; but a celebration of the full and joyful voice of a maturing mind and a questioning soul. To that end, what is your takeaway from the story?
  2. Early in the book we are with Alex as he tours London. He is very interested in visiting the Jewish sights. Where have you traveled and did you also make time to visit the Jewish sites?
  3. While still in college Alex wrote, “I feel that I should have a military experience in my life.” What values do you think he held that made him feel this way?
  4. How do you think Alex’s time in Soviet Russia meeting with Jewish refusniks impacted him?
  5. In what ways do you relate to Alex’s life experiences and his commitment to his people and homeland?

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Tags: Books, Terror, Youth, Parents