Thirty-year-old Carlos ecently spent his Sunday visiting a Hispanic church in downtown Los Angeles where he greeted fans and posed for pictures. At noon he slipped on a pair of sunglasses and was ushered into a car headed for the airport. It marked the end of his tour.
The Colombian-born Carlos isn’t a Latin pop star—he’s a former Israeli soldier.
Carlos, who grew up in Bogota’s Jewish community before moving to Israel at 19, was on the last stop of a two-week tour of the Southwest, hosted by the Israel education organization, StandWithUs. The military veteran shared stories about his experience serving in the Israel Defense Forces’ Paratrooper Brigade. Near the end of his service, in 2009, Carlos was part of an operation in Gaza after Hamas began firing rockets into Southern Israeli cities.
“I remember calling my parents the day before we went in,” said Carlos, who completed his military service in 2010. “It was New Years eve. I was so scared to tell them, so I just told them everything is okay and that I love them.”
A crowd of more than 200 members at Tabernaculo Biblico Baptista Amigos de Los Israel—a large warehouse converted into a church—listened as Carlos addressed them in his native Spanish. Before taking questions, he described witnessing a Hamas terrorist force his wife and six children to stay in their home despite receiving warnings from the IDF to evacuate.