I interviewed Maya Lapidot of Ohavim BBG #418 in Eastern Region: North Carolina Councils. She is currently serving as NCC’s Shlicha. She told me about her plans to enlist in the IDF after she graduates in June.
The IDF is the Israeli Defense Force, which is the Israeli Army. It is comprised of many different positions and units that work together to protect Israel. In Israel, service is mandatory for citizens. In America, it is common to go to college right after high school, but in Israel right after people graduate, they are drafted into the army. Girls serve for two years and boys serve for three years.
In order to join the IDF, there are many different ways you can do it. If you live in Israel, it's like the standard procedure that you go through in school… there is testing to see what your position would be and what unit you’re going to be placed in. You also usually have to go through a couple of interviews and fill out a lot of paperwork. However, if you're planning to be a lone soldier- like I would be next year- there are different programs that help facilitate the process and make the whole journey easier because eventually, you're going to be moving to a whole different country. There are different programs that cater to different needs, such as religious programs or secular programs. This isn’t the kind of thing you can back out of. It’s a big commitment. For the specific program, I'm going to do, there are preparation seminars coming up in the next couple of months before we move to Israel, so we can know exactly what to expect beforehand and ensure that we are 100% confident in our decision to enlist.
Because I will only know my position after my examinations in Israel, I don't know exactly what I'm going to be doing. I'm interested in the field of education rather than combat. I do know that whatever I end up doing, I want to do something that’s going to be influential and make a difference somehow. I want to be able to challenge myself, become a better version of myself, and work with others in an environment that makes me happy.
Right now I don't know much about what I'm going to do after my service. Depending on my position, I might have to serve longer than two years. I'm keeping all my options open, so I may come back to the United States to go to school, stay in Israel and go to school there, or take a year off and travel. The possibilities are endless, but I want to just wait and see how I change and what I want in life changes by then, so I can make my decision.
Both of my parents served in the IDF. Since I grew up in Israel, everyone around me served. Being there, I always had the mentality that I would one day join too. Living in the United States has given me a lot more options, but serving has always been in the back of my mind because my whole family served. They have all inspired me through what they've done and what I've seen them do. More specifically, this past summer when I was in Israel, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I wanted to do, and I decided that this is the right path for me.
I get a bit hesitant to tell people what I'm doing next year because sometimes the topic of Israel can cause mixed reactions from people. It's also not a very common track to go on, especially for people who are unaware of my Israeli background. People can perceive it as surprising, but so far everyone has been very supportive. I've actually been shocked to see how many people say they wish they had done something before they went to college too, such as traveling or volunteering. In general, I've had really positive responses from everyone that I've told.
I’m both extremely excited and a little bit nervous. I'm really, really excited because it's going to be a new beginning and it's a new experience I think will change me a lot for the better. I'll be able to grow a lot through it, and it's a new challenge that I can approach in my life. However, I'm also slightly nervous because it is a new environment and my whole entire life is going to change. I'm scared for the little things, such as if I don’t get the position I want, or I won't love the people that I work with. But in the end, those are the smaller things, and I'm really excited to start a new adventure and be back in Israel with my family.
I am choosing to join the IDF because I'm very passionate about my connection to Israel. It is my home, so I’m eager to work toward protecting it, enjoy life there, and go through a new journey in Israel.
Maya Elden is a BBG from Ohavim BBG #418 in Eastern Region: North Carolina Council, has played piano for 12 years, and works at a car wash.
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