In Israel’s time of need, Jews around the world have found an unlikely ally.
“In Yiddish there’s a term ‘loch in kop’, which means, ‘I need this like a hole in the head,’” Rabbi Levi Wolff told a packed Central Synagogue in Sydney on Friday night, the majority there to hear from the evening’s special guest, actor and social media personality Nate Buzolic.
“Nate is a good Aussie bloke with an impressive acting career. What does he need this for in his life?
“And yet this man sitting in front of us today made a decision to stand up to the critics and support the State of Israel to his millions of followers,” Rabbi Wolff said.
Known as Nate Buzz on his Instagram account where he has 3.4 million followers, Buzolic is a born-again Christian devoted to Israel’s cause and determined to shift the pro-Palestinian narrative on social media. In the days after October 7, he emerged as a voice of clarity as he helped combat the hateful and harmful propaganda being spewed online.
From the moment Buzolic arrived at Central he was surrounded by hundreds of members of the community, as desperate to thank him for his support as they were to get a photo with him.
Full of humility, he began by answering the first question on everyone’s minds: How did an Australian actor who grew up in Sydney’s west, right near Lakemba Mosque, come to support Israel and the Jewish people?
He explained that in 2016, while living in Los Angeles and shooting the American series The Vampire Diaries, he was grappling with the breakdown of a relationship and decided to fly to Iraq and do volunteer work.
“I felt my life was worthless,” Buzolic said.
“In a dusty field in Iraq, Hashem came to me and said, ‘If you’re that willing to give up your life, give it up to me, what’s the difference?’ I went back to LA, read the entire Torah and the New Testament and one word stood out – Israel.
“Shortly after that I flew to Israel in 2017 and, like many of you, had a life-changing experience.”
Buzolic has now been to Israel 26 times, most recently spending a month there after October 7, playing a crucial role on the ground interviewing Israeli survivors, family members, wounded soldiers and former prime minister Naftali Bennett.
During Friday’s service Rabbi Wolff bestowed on him the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ and presented him with a menorah as a symbol to keep shining the light.
“Nate, we have no words that can adequately express our enormous appreciation for the difference that you’re making on a global scale,” Rabbi Wolff said.
On Sunday night, during Buzolic’s second event of the weekend with the Jewish community, he told a more intimate gathering that he can’t go anywhere in Israel without being recognised.
“They call me ‘melech’ [king],” said Buzolic, whose Israeli girlfriend Liya Noga has returned to Sydney with him.
“It was the most difficult month of my life after October 7 and going into Israel. To have her [Liya] supporting me every evening after I’d had some very heavy days, I don’t know if I would have got through it.”
Buzolic’s support of Israel and the Jewish community has come at a great cost. There’s the predictable loss of social media followers and an influx of online hate, but some members of his own family won’t talk to him, he has received death threats, has had to organise his own security and he had to put his mother into hiding.
“As a Christian, someone outside of the community, I’ve been given the privilege of loving a people who the world so easily hate and because of the hate I receive, it proves my love,” Buzolic said.
He said that “growing up in a Muslim culture”, he observed misconceptions about Jewish people and Israel even before October 7. “I obviously experience a lot more because the moment I put something about Israel online, my DMs [direct messages] are flooded, accusing me of supporting genocide.
“Information and propaganda can be spread quickly, efficiently and effectively to a young generation of people who don’t critically think anymore. This is a battle of biblical proportions.”
But it’s a battle nothing will deter Buzolic from engaging in.
“My love for the Jewish people and my love for Israel has now been galvanised,” he said.
“No matter what happens, no matter the cost, I will support this nation until my last breath.”