Pvt. Or Meidan 370.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
IDF Pvt. Or Meidan’s life took an unexpected turn following last year’s
Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip.
After enduring the
incessant rocket fall around her kibbutz near the Gaza border, Meidan chose to
put her education at Tel Aviv University on hold and enlist in the Israel Air
Force. Now the Ugandan-born soldier is close to achieving her new ambition of
defending Israel by operating the Iron Dome rocket-defense system.
feel like I’m protecting [Israel],” she says in a recent interview. “I really
like what I’m doing.”
Meidan, who was not born Jewish, describes her life
in Uganda and Zambia – where she lived for two years before immigrating to
Israel in 2011 – as carefree. She was studious, she says, and when her family
decided to move to Israel, she planned to continue her pursuit of an
But her life in Yad Mordechai, located roughly five
kilometers from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, inspired her to choose a new
path. The kibbutz was incessantly under rocket fire, says Meidan; day and night,
rockets exploded around the kibbutz and overhead.
“I was shocked,” she
She credits Israeli air defenses and the IAF with protecting her
life there, and this compelled her to join the IDF. She now feels she is
protecting fellow Israelis from rocket fire like the kind she
She also admits that becoming a soldier has molded her into
a person who is “mentally and physically stronger” and who is more aware of the
world around her.
After enlisting, she participated in a Hebrew course
through Mikve Alon – a basic-training track for new immigrants.
became more fluent in Hebrew, she was drafted into the Air Defense Command,
ultimately joining a unit that operates the Iron Dome.
Last week, she
passed a physical combat test that involved running 1.6 km., climbing a rope and
running through tires. She now hopes to become an officer in charge of an Iron
After she completes her army service, she intends to resume
her university studies.
Though her background isn’t typical of Israelis,
Meidan says she now feels like she is a part of Israeli society – something for
which she is tremendously appreciative.
“I would really [like to] thank
[the Israelis] for having accepted me to join the army and for giving me a
really big opportunity to feel like part of the country myself,” she
Another of her aspirations is to convert to Judaism. She intends to
participate in Nativ, a program for IDF soldiers who want to convert.
want to be Jewish, because they are really good people,” she says. “I also want
to feel like a part of the country itself.”