Capt. Rafael Rosenstein wanted to make aliya so badly that he proposed to his
now wife to convince her to move with him.
Rosenstein, from Brazil, and
Anastasia Rosenkrauss, from Russia, joined the IDF Legal Division a few years
after making aliya, to combine their talents with pursuing their dreams and
commitment to the State of Israel. Despite challenges, the two have found that
their IDF service has led to some incredibly rewarding moments.
recently to The Jerusalem Post, Rosenstein, who has risen to the rank of captain
after more than three years in the IDF, said he had wanted since he was 14 to be
part of Israel and a historic time for the Jewish people.
challenge once he was old enough was convincing his girlfriend to move to
Israel. Rosenstein was so committed to making aliya that he told her he would
marry her if she agreed to move.
Although he did not convince his
now-wife to make aliya until he was 21, Rosenstein still remembers learning
about the IDF Legal Division at the age of 19 while researching aliya options on
Rosenstein said that it became a “dream” for him that would
allow him to get a legal education in Israel and use it for one of his passions,
serving in the IDF.
In fact, serving in the IDF Legal Division was more
than just a dream – it was Rosenstein’s ticket into the Israeli workforce, which
otherwise looked uncertain to him. But when he made aliya he had no guarantees.
He knew it was very difficult to get into the legal division, especially when he
was only ready to commit to one year, compared to the normal three for men, and
that he could end up spending his year as an office-based soldier doing busy
When he finally met with legal division representatives, he told
his interviewers he would do “whatever he needed to do” to make it as an army
lawyer and was willing to take the risk of doing his obligatory service in the
legal division even if they did not hire him as an officer at the end of the
This exposed Rosenstein to possible negatives on two fronts. On one
hand, he would have to work harder and much longer hours than the average
noncombat soldier. At the same time, he would still be getting paid very little,
despite already having a law degree.
Rosenstein ultimately succeeded and was offered fulltime work
as an officer and has served in roles where he prosecuted Palestinian
administrative detainees in the West Bank and IDF soldiers, working in the
central district air force prosecution office.
Some moments have made all
of the change and sacrifice worth it for Rosenstein. In one instance, his
parents visited from Brazil and his commander surprised him by holding his
promotion ceremony on the day of their visit to the base.
was when he traveled with the IDF to the Nazi’s Birkenau death camp, where his
grandfather had been a prisoner. At one point, he and the other soldiers were
being given orders to march “left, right, left.”
The moment was seared
into Rosenstein’s consciousness.
The same metaphorical left or right that
decided whether his grandfather would live or die in the Nazi selection line,
had returned to the same place but was now a source of pride and strength to the
Jewish nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.
that the IDF is his extended family now since he has no other family
Similarly, Rosenkrauss’s aliya was not spontaneous and she had
wanted to move to Israel since she was around 13 years old.
heavily involved in Jewish Agency-sponsored programs, was educated in Jewish
culture and traditions and wanted to live in a place where it would be easier to
live a Jewish lifestyle.
For Rosenkrauss, moving to Israel – which she
did shortly after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 – was a “natural process” for
what a committed Jew would do who lived in a Christian-dominated country like
Serving in the IDF was an obvious choice for her, as she
considered it an “inseparable part of making aliya, being a part of the land,
the nation and being a citizen.”
Rosenkrauss also wanted to take an
“equal part in sharing the burden” of the defense of the state that all Israeli
Unlike Rosenstein, when she first made aliya, Rosenkrauss
knew nothing about the IDF Legal Division per se. She had completed a law degree
in Russia, but also decided to complete one in Israel. After graduating and only
after a series of interviews did she and the IDF determine that she could best
serve in its legal division.
Rosenkrauss only expected to volunteer for
However, she fell in love with her role as an attorney
defending soldiers’ rights in military court and is starting officer’s school
In terms of adjustments to moving away from the land of her
birth, Rosenkrauss said that many things were infinitely easier, such as finding
kosher food and keeping religious traditions. There were certainly challenges
being far away from family and with aspects of the language and the culture, but
overall Rosenkrauss said that the IDF gave her tremendous support to make
Asked if she was more concerned about making aliya
right after the Second Lebanon War, she responded that “it didn’t deter me at
In fact, especially in such times I felt obligated to join in the
same struggles that the [Israeli] nation” was going through.