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Photo by: IDF Spokesman's Office
2 olim fulfill aliya dream, become IDF lawyers
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
08/07/2012
Brazilian becomes prosecutor, Russian serves as defender. 1 proposed to future wife to convince her to make aliya.
 
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.

Speaking 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.

His main 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 the Internet.

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 work.

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 year.

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 was undaunted.

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.

Another moment 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.

Rosenstein said that the IDF is his extended family now since he has no other family here.

Similarly, Rosenkrauss’s aliya was not spontaneous and she had wanted to move to Israel since she was around 13 years old.

She was 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 Russia.

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 citizens share.

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 one year.

However, she fell in love with her role as an attorney defending soldiers’ rights in military court and is starting officer’s school this month.

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 everything possible.

Asked if she was more concerned about making aliya right after the Second Lebanon War, she responded that “it didn’t deter me at all.

In fact, especially in such times I felt obligated to join in the same struggles that the [Israeli] nation” was going through.
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