I am an American-Israeli citizen. This is a fact I’m very proud of, and I love
my heritage and the culture that goes with it. My father’s family lives in
Israel and I visit often, almost every year.
Whenever I’m there I see
soldiers everywhere, and I’ve heard my father’s stories and talked to my family
about their service.
As I got older I started going to Israel by myself
and started to make friends my own age, and as we got older I started to get
ready for college, while they got ready to enter the military.
in Israel is a very big deal and surrounds the politics there. I’ve talked to
friends about their thoughts on entering the IDF and most look forward to it;
they see it as an honor to serve their country. As an Israeli-American I’ve
thought about taking time off from college and going over to serve to do my part
to help the country I love. To give support to my friends and family as well as
protect my family and fellow Israeli citizens not in the IDF.
I first had
this thought after doing a study-abroad trip my senior year of high school on a
two-month program. That was when I heard all of my Israeli friends talking about
what units they wanted to get into, whereas the Americans on my trip were
talking about what colleges they wanted to get into. It’s such a different
lifestyle as a teenager in Israel.
This sparked the interest of myself
and a few of my American friends on the trip, so we talked to our group
councilor about the IDF and he taught us about specific units that we might want
to get into, as well as the various support units.
I brought this up with
my parents and my dad was happy for me either way, whether I went to college or
to the IDF he would be proud, he said. My mom was against me going to the army
because she didn’t want me in danger. She also knew that if I didn’t go to
college right away I most likely wouldn’t go at all; I’d probably end up staying
in Israel or Europe for a while and then just working at home.
they have a rule that if you’re an only child or if an immediate family member
has been killed in the IDF your parents have a say in what units you can be in.
My parents wouldn’t have allowed me to be in a combat unit and I didn’t really
know many support units so I decided to go to school first.
say that there is enough people there being drafted that I didn’t need to
volunteer. This may be true, but my feeling is they can always use extra people.
Another way I could personally be there to contribute would be volunteering with
Magen David Adom. I have a couple friends who have done this and they love
I wouldn’t be in any immediate danger and I would still be able to
live in Israel and help directly. I have a friend who recently did this and he
loved it. He posts stories every now and then and it sounds like something only
certain people would be able to do (you go through EMS training and Advanced
First Responder training).
What you do is volunteer with ambulance personnel and
take shifts driving through the cities helping with medical emergencies. If you
don’t like blood or the stress would be too much you could volunteer with people
who go around and rebuild buildings that have been destroyed in
These aren’t necessarily with organizations but just a community
going to cities with high attack rates and helping fix it. If you want to be in
the IDF but don’t want to be in a unit that could be deployed, you could become
These are the people who have desk jobs or are military
musicians (they go around raising money for the military by doing concerts or
play for the soldiers for entertainment). All of these are good alternatives to
an infantry path in the IDF, while still being in Israel and making a difference
with your own two hands.
I might do one of these, or I might do all three
if the opportunity arises, but if you can’t make that kind of commitment
donation is always a good choice as well – they wouldn’t be able to any of these
things without financial support.
Jewish organizations ask for donations
for Magen David Adom or for IDF and I could always do that. It isn’t the same
though for me – I’m still helping Israel, but I want it to be more personal than
just signing a check. I want to put my all into it if I do.
most likely donate some money because it does matter, but I want to do more: I
want to be there.
A few of my friends have done either a volunteer
program or joined the IDF for some period of time, and I know more
non-Israeli-Americans who have done this, and to me that doesn’t make
All Jews should love Israel, it’s a safe haven to be with other
Jews, but Israeli- Americans who know their heritage and who have family there
should be even more drawn to the idea. I feel like we have a duty to help in any
If you don’t feel comfortable moving to Israel donate
money, if you can manage to take a few months off of school or work, volunteer
for an organization.
There is so much that needs to be done there and the
American-Israeli community can help greatly.
The author is an
Israeli-American citizen and Conservative Jew, he is in college at the
University of Tampa currently studying biology.