I decided to Draft into the IDF for a number of reasons. I decided I wanted to make aliya and to do so properly and truly integrate into Israeli society the army (or some sort of sherut leumi) is a must. I also viewed it as my duty to give of myself defending the Jewish state and the Jewish people as so many before me have.
My family and friends were very receptive of the Idea. Thank G-d I come from a community where the path I chose is not so uncommon. My sister made aliya and served before me and so my family was very supportive and understood what I was doing and many of my friends knew that I would choose this path even before I was aware that I would.
Looking back at my first day in the army it is really a blur. I remember being in a bit of shock. Not because there were things that I didn’t expect but because it was almost surreal that I was finally doing what I had been preparing for for so long.
During the majority of my service I lived on Kibbutz Lavi as part of the Garin Tzabar program.
Everyone around me was extremely supportive. Family, friends, the people on kibbutz, and even random strangers when they heard who we were (lone soldiers) offered support and words of encouragement.
The stories that are most meaningful for me are from the time around mivtza Tzuk Eitan where we could really feel the support and love that was being directed not only at the lone soldiers but at all soldiers. Ill share one particular story but there are countless others like it: My unit was coming back to the place where we were sleeping I don’t remember if it was after a long drill before going into Gaza or if it was after coming back from the Gaza Strip itself but we got off the busses exhausted and started lugging our gear back to where it was kept. On the way we were stopped by a small group of people who with heavy American accents offered us popcicles and a smile. I found out they were from New York but have no Idea what they were doing in Israel or down South. All I know is that these amazing people felt the need to come down and brave the rocket fire to bring popsicles to complete strangers.
My army service as a whole was a very challenging yet fulfilling experience. Challenging both physically as well as mentally. And fulfilling in many ways as well. I think it’s important that people know there are all sorts of chayalim bodedim each with a different story and each with different needs in terms of support and resources.