July 17, 2024


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Lone Soldier | Aaron Leibel

Daughter amount one particular Lauren served in the IDF whilst we lived in Israel.  Debra, daughter quantity two, also did her military provider, but it was a great deal a lot more difficult.

She had returned to America with Bonnie, her sister Abby and me when she was 16, at the conclusion of her sophomore calendar year in superior university. She experienced no legal obligation to return to be drafted, because she hadn’t received her first in a collection of get in touch with-up orders from the military right before we left the region.

But Debra says she never experienced any doubt that she would go back again to do her assistance. It was not patriotism, she suggests. Rather, becoming in the IDF was part of lifetime in Israel. All her pals and acquaintances would do it, and she understood she would be a part of them.

For some rationale, by likely to summertime university the 12 months we arrived and the next year completing the 11th grade — she and her sister, Abby, expended that 1st yr as pupils at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md. — she would have sufficient credits to graduate with no heading to the 12th grade.

So she graduated a yr early and put in what should have been her 12th-quality calendar year at Montgomery University. The 30 credits she earned have been considered the equivalent of owning handed the bagrut exams — a series of grueling tests that Israeli youngsters need to move to be admitted to college.

She returned to Israel in July and worked as a waitress in the cafeteria in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), waiting around to be called up. She was supposed to be drafted in September. But the army had not finalized her actual physical profile by that slide, and so her induction was postponed to February. That was very fortunate because experienced she long gone in in September, she wouldn’t have fulfilled Nadav — one particular of her instructors in a class she took, who later on grew to become her partner.

Feminine troopers then did three weeks of fundamental teaching, but immediately after 10 times, she and other trainees left for a a few-thirty day period-prolonged training course in Intelligence.

At the completion of the training course, she was assigned to a base in the Negev for the remainder of her time in the IDF. Her work needed a fantastic understanding of English. Which is all she will make it possible for me to say. (Lauren also was in Intelligence, stationed at the primary IDF facility in Tel Aviv. Right after far more than 30 many years. she even now refuses to tell me what she did.)

Prior to her induction, Debra lived in our apartment in Jerusalem with Lauren and her boyfriend Dror, quickly to grow to be Lauren’s spouse. Soon after she satisfied Nadav, Debra used most of her depart from the military at his parent’s dwelling.

She was categorized as a hayelet bodida, a lone soldier, a person serving without having his or her mom and dad residing in the country.

The military presented those people soldiers some added benefits to test to compensate for the absence of their liked types. For illustration, Debra bought a free but time-restricted telephone contact to her parents after a thirty day period. When getting her system, she and her fellow troopers acquired to go dwelling each individual Friday and Saturday. She was permitted to go away the base two several hours in advance of the other individuals — the rationale becoming that she would have to do shopping for herself for Shabbat. Simply because the other soldiers would return to the foundation with baskets of food items from their doting dad and mom, she was authorized, as payment, the privilege of possessing a toaster in her room.

The additional substantive rewards bundled a wage that was almost twice as big as her fellow troopers. However, she notes, the sum of dollars was even so quite compact, inadequate for having to pay for housing experienced she been compelled to do that.

She also acquired 3 weeks a year to go to us. The to start with yr, we arrived to Israel for Lauren’s marriage and the pay a visit to was in the Jewish condition. The second 12 months, Debra arrived to our house. (This excess three months holiday experienced a draw back. She was explained to that would have been named a mifakedet [literally, commander, but maybe better translated as team leader] in her device ended up it not for those added 3 weeks off.) 

All in all, Debra’s incredibly glad she served in the IDF. Not only did she fulfill her husband, but people several years set her on the path to her existing lifestyle.

Photograph Debra, in her uniform, looks a very little disheveled and extremely fatigued.


Aaron Leibel was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1942, at some point receiving a Ph.D. in political science. In Israel, he lived in Jerusalem and Kibbutz Kfar Giladi. He worked at the Ministry of Well being, as an apple farmer, and as a resort administrator before getting to be a journalist. Aaron was a senior author for Newsview magazine and editor-author for The Jerusalem Publish, and then, immediately after returning to America, he was arts/duplicate editor and reporter for the Washington Jewish 7 days newspaper right up until his retirement in 2014. He continues to generate critiques and posts for Washington Jewish 7 days and opinions for The Jerusalem Write-up. His memoir, Figs and Alligators: An American Immigrant’s Life in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, is slated to be revealed by Chickadee Prince Books early in 2021. It is out there for preorder in paperback.