About My New Memoir:
On January 4th 1993, I was released from my compulsory army service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Two years earlier, I had volunteered as a new immigrant “Olah Hadashah” from Greenwich Village, New York City. The previous summer in 1989, I had volunteered on my aunt’s kibbutz situated alongside the Israeli-Lebanese border and fell in love with the idea of becoming an Israeli soldier. I was mesmerized by the idea of stepping into “leadership shoes” which had been missing from my NYC emotional landscape.
However, I found that my own personal motivation wasn’t enough to survive and thrive although it did help greatly when times were tough. Even at the tender and vulnerable age of 18, I had to emotionally navigate a new and foreign culture within a male militaristic Middle Eastern mentality and framework. I chose to serve in the Nahal division of the IDF, which combines kibbutz/settlement work with army service on various bases throughout Israel. This was which was more-than-just-your-average-everyday service. I had to learn how to coexist every day alongside three Russian girls, one French and one Danish and often at times, under pressure for a period of two and a half years. Many times, I wanted to transfer out of our “garin” (Hebrew word for “seed” and in army lingo, means a group of young people going through the army together) because the Russians and myself could never seem to agree on anything. It was a nerveracking experience that also served me for life. I often felt emotionally isolated and misunderstood. I didn’t have any American friends to share the journey and often the homesickness became too much to bear.
Each blog post of my memoir chronicles my personal journey of “start” to “finish” in the IDF and how I was able to “stick it out.” Eventually, as you will see, I did manage to find a suitable way of dealing with the Russians and acquired a compromised version of leadership that would suit me.
But I was changed forever.
After more than 20 years of hiding with my story and thinking my story wasn’t so “important” because I lived through these experiences and thinking, “So what? Everybody in Israel does the IDF – what makes you special?,” I decided to get real and courageous all over again and give voice to my experience.
Market research has found there are many memoirs written by men on their experiences serving in the IDF but no memoirs written by a female about serving in the IDF – so I consider myself a pioneer!
As you will soon see, each blog post lists the various parts of my journey beginning with arrival, our service on the various bases and settlements and kibbutzim and the transition over to what is known as “shalat aharon” – the long period of serving on a kibbutz before one is released from the Nahal unit of the army. As of now, (January 7, 2013) I’m writing about our Gaza strip army experience. I have a few weeks to go still until I reach “shalat aharon.”
And I realize that while I am introducing you to a foreign world, I’d like to think of the themes of my journey as universal. After all, diversity, leadership, inclusion and dealing with uncertainty are not foreign issues – just my world perhaps is…(or was…)
I hope you enjoy the journey as I am reliving it!
Here’s to your voice and story!
Please note: This is a personal journey and while some of you may not agree with it, it is my story and I have to write it the way I need to. I won’t be commenting on political issues—that is out of my scope.