This coming of age story of transformation and personal growth is uniquely told from a female immigrant serving in the Israel Defense Forces. This post focuses on all the juicy bits – the scenes of courage that aren’t in the memoir, from the scary to the unexpected.
1. Learning about mines on the Israeli-Syrian border. One of the pre-army experiences happened when I was taking a trip with an old Israeli friend who stayed with her family in our artist building back in New York City. I had kept in touch with her from age 12 until 18 when I finally came to visit her on her base while volunteering on my aunt’s kibbutz. Suddenly she had become larger than life upon seeing her with a gun. Those earlier experiences planted a seed of freedom. With her perfectly fluent English and her courageous spirit to serve in one of the toughest but unique services through the Society for the Protection of Nature, I was motivated then to become a larger version of myself.
“On the pathway, Nufar explains that you are not allowed to cross into Syrian territories and that there are mines out there. Mines? I think as I drink my silky smooth chocolate milk contained in a Ziplock style sandwich bag Israelis call “shoko,” which you can buy for fifty cents at the small supermarkets known as “kolbos.” But when Nufar starts explaining how Israel annexted the Golan Heights from the Syrians during the 1967 war, all I can think about is how fluently she comes across when speaking English without a trace of a foreign accent and how common and usual I am by comparison.
2. Torn between trying to find the “right” friendd. Everything on the kibbutz is different than my American college type lifestyle. As I’m trying to find the “right” friend as a kibbutz volunteer, I discern just how different the American and Israeli cultures really are. When I first volunteered on a kibbutz, I was torn between hanging out with the English speaking volunteers and the “sabra type” friends on the kibbutz. “The more I hang out with Israelis, the easier it is for me to feel emotionally safer. The prickly part is just their way of showing affection and the fact they are tense reflects the fact they are surrounded by Arab enemies who want to blow Israel up.”
3. Tapping into the “courage story” of my ancestors. The story of my mother and her family who narrowly escaped the Nazis from her native Spain was information held from me for whatever reason. I grew up to fear other “enemies” – people I would soon encounter like Shawna who learned quite quickly how to take advantage of my vulnerabilities. “Had I know this information, I might have been in a better position to fend for myself against people like bossy Shawna who now made herself the head of the volunteers. I’d have more common sense to react froma more controlled perspective without getting so hysterical and taking things so damn personal. if I had taken comfort in the knowledge of my family’s own hardships, suffering would have taken a different meaning.
Want to learn more about my IDF memoir and story of transformation? Click here to learn about the rewards you can get when you support my Pubslush campaign. For as low as $20, you can get a ebook version of my memoir.