LAKEWOOD - The parents of a young Orthodox Jewish man among those fighting for Israel on the front lines in Gaza say they are proud, but worried for his safety.
Sharon and Steven Langert say they were relieved to receive a phone call Thursday night from their 22-year-old son Aaron saying he was OK.
He is fighting with the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza. "It's absolutely difficult," says Sharon Langert. "I'm trying to just live my life normally, but I'm constantly walking around with a heavy feeling."
Steven Langert, a township committeeman, says he tries to concentrate on the pride he feels having his son defend their Jewish homeland instead of focusing on his fear. "If I allow those thoughts to take over my mind, then I won't be able to function so I push them out of my mind and tell myself he's doing a great thing," he says.
Aaron Langert grew up in Lakewood. After finishing his junior year at Yeshiva University in New York, he began questioning his purpose in life.
"He came home and said, 'Maybe I should just join the Army,' and we were very surprised, but very supportive and at the time it was very peaceful," says Sharon Langert.
As they spoke to News 12 New Jersey, the parents received unsettling news via text from their son. "Did you guys hear about a captured solder... He was one of my commanders," it read.
Sharon Langert says a text like that makes it all too real. "Everywhere I go people say, 'I'm praying for your son, I'm thinking about your son and what can we do to help.'"
She says that kind of support helps give them strength.
Aaron Langert was selected to be in the special forces unity of the IDF, which puts him to the front lines. He serves along with his Israeli cousin.