Before I made Aliyah, I had decided I would not join the Israeli Defense Forces. I am adamantly for peace and a free, independent Palestine. With the ongoing conflict, I couldn’t see myself being a part of things. I do support the IDF, but I did not want to be placed in a situation where I might have to go do things I couldn’t morally support (any missions in the occupied territories). Being that I am 26, I don’t HAVE to serve like younger Israelis. So that was the plan.
But as I have learned, the military is a central thing in most Israeli’s lives. Your service is included on resumes, can help with loan interest rates, rental contracts, social circles and more. I remember my rabbi from the ‘States saying to me, “that is fine (that I don’t want to serve), but don’t be completely set in that thinking. A lot can change when you get there.” She was right. For many reasons, I have decided to try to serve for a year. I am still open to many different options and will continue to get information, but I am leaning towards working in communications. The poem below is the first thing that got me to consider the possibility of service:
The Silver Platter | Nathan Alterman
The Earth grows still.
The lurid sky slowly pales
Over smoking borders.
Heartsick, but still living, a people stand by
To greet the uniqueness
Of the miracle.
Readied, they wait beneath the moon.
Wrapped in awesome joy, before the light.
A girl and boy step forward,
And slowly walk before the waiting nation.
In work garb and heavy-shod
Wearing yet the dress of battle, the grime
Of aching day and fire-filled night
Unwashed, weary unto death, not knowing
But wearing youth like dewdrops in their hair.
–Silently the two approach and stand.
Are they of the quick or of the dead?
Through wondering tears, the people stare.
“Who are you, the silent two?”
And they reply: “We are the silver platter
Upon which the Jewish State was served to you.”
And speaking, fall in shadow at the nation’s
Let the rest in Israel’s chronicles be told.
So that is where I am at right now. I will be going on a mini boot camp the first week of July with the rest of the ulpan students. It should be an interesting 7 days. Then, August 1-20, I will be going on a program that gives olim hadashim a crash course on all things IDF and helps with placement, details, logistics, etc. I am pretty excited for both.