idf reservists pray 248 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
While strained relationships between reserve soldiers and their employers have become more of a common occurrence in recent years, an IDF ceremony on Sunday evening recognized select businesses that have forged "exemplary" relationships with their reservist employees, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi were on hand to offer their thanks.
This was the third year that the Magen Miluim (shield of the reserves) ceremony was held to honor employers with a stellar record of support for their reserve soldiers, and Manufacturer's Association President Shraga Brosh, Histadrut Director-General Gad Lotan, former head of the Shin Bet and current chairman of Mizrahi Tefahot Yaakov Perry, and Brig. Gen. Shuki Ben-Anat, who heads the reserves, also took part in the event.
Twelve companies were selected: TEVA Pharmaceuticals; Phoenicia America-Israel (Flat Glass) Ltd.; ECI Telecom; Mem-Bet Ltd.; Amy-Metom Engineers and Consultants Ltd.; Ariel University Center of Samaria; Raved, Magriso, Benkel, Lahav & Co., Advocates & Notaries; Intentia Israel; Marom-Dolphin Ltd.; Asher Green Construction Ltd.; Weismad Ltd.; and Reshef Insurance Company.
"These are companies which, through their actions, make it possible for their employees to complete reserve duty and then return to their jobs without any damage to their position or status," an IDF Spokesman's statement read. "And they do so in a way that actually lends the reservists a feeling of support."
Employee-reservists from some of the firms agreed with that description on Sunday, telling The Jerusalem Post that their employers consistently go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to their reservists.
"I've never felt uncomfortable in any way when I've had to go [for reserve duty], and I've had to go a lot," said Gur Laish, an ECI Telecom employee. "If it was during Defensive Shield, the Second Lebanon War or just now in Gaza, I'm a combat reservist, and my unit is drafted anytime there's a full call-up. They've never made me feel like I was burdening them or something was wrong."
Laish explained that in fact, ECI encouraged their reservist employees when they were called up for active duty, helping them through their service and supporting them any way they could.
"This year, they started giving out bonuses to reservists who serve more than 20 days a year," Laish said. "That for me is just such a heartwarming gesture, and it really goes both ways. It allows you to do your reserve duty well, without worrying about what will happen when you come back, and then when you do come back, you know that you're working for a company that cares about you."
"We believe in professional excellence, but also in taking societal responsibility and setting excellent examples in the community," said Adi Bildner, who heads ECI's human resources department. "The spirit of volunteering and love of the land are part of our organizational culture, and we're proud of our reserve soldiers and will continue to do whatever we can to support them."
Zeev Velts, who works at the Ariel University Center of Samaria and was recently called-up for service during Operation Cast Lead, lauded his employers for the personal investment he felt they gave when it came to the reservists on staff.
"People from the office have come to my base to visit me while I was doing my service," said Velts. "The last time I was gone, they brought my wife challot before Shabbat and candy for my kids. There's plenty of stories about people who go to reserve duty and their employers give them a hard time, or try to make them get out of it. But for us, that just doesn't exist."
Velts also said he felt that the attitude expressed in his workplace was conducive to better service.
"A big part of reserve duty is worrying about what's going on back at home," Velts said. "So, to know that there are people supporting you, and that your job is safe, it allows your mind to be at peace, and to focus on the job at hand."