HANC’s Samuel and Elizabeth Bass Golding Elementary School, in an ongoing program to bring Israel alive and closer to the hearts of its students, welcomed six representatives from Panim el Panim who shared their experiences in the Israeli army.
As each soldier introduced himself and shared his personal story, the children were surprised to discover that most of them were born in America and were raised and educated here. When they went to Israel for their gap year of learning in a yeshiva, they developed a deep bond with the land and people of Israel and felt it was their responsibility to join the army and defend our homeland.
A soldier named Tal, raised in Brooklyn, described what it was like to be a lone soldier in the Israeli army. With no family in Israel, the army took care of him and provided for his needs.
Noam, who grew up in Teaneck said that during his experience in an Israeli yeshiva, he felt it was important to serve and do his part.
Amichai, a native Israeli, described what life was like in the army. “It is not easy,” he said. “You don’t sleep well and you don’t eat well. However, we understand why we need to do this and we realize the importance of protecting Israel.”
What is unique about Israel came to light in a story that one of the soldiers shared. It was a cold day, moments before Shabbat, and this tired soldier was waiting at a bus stop. Suddenly, a van pulled up and a family with many children got out of the van. While the children handed out candies and treats to the soldiers, their mother opened her trunk, took out a soup ladle, and began handing bowls of hot soup to the soldiers that were waiting there. They could not believe their eyes! At a time when most families are busy getting ready for Shabbat in their own homes, this family decided that they needed to show their appreciation to the soldiers in a special way that would let them know that they are loved by Am Yisrael.
Questions that were posed to the soldiers included: what kind of training does a soldier get, what types of jobs do soldiers do and does each soldier get to choose what his/her job will be. From the responses, the children got a clearer sense of the life of a soldier in the Israeli Army.
Despite the hardships that soldiers face, they shared a firm belief in the importance of doing their part to ensure the future of Israel and Am Yisrael.