Yom HaZikaron is the Day of Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers of the IDF and for individuals who were murdered in terror attacks. It is a day full of tears and sorrow because everyone in Israel is somehow connected to the tragedies.
On this day of remembering the soldiers, it was very special to have a Lone Soldier (serviceman or servicewoman without immediate family in Israel) come to talk to us. The soldier, Adina Karpuj Bortz had an interesting and special story and allowed us to feel the day on a different level. We were able to see the day through the perspective of a Lone Soldier and gain more insight into life in the IDF as well as to understand why the day makes everyone so emotional.
Adina’s story started in Argentina, where she was born, and then afterwards her parents moved her family to Chile and then to Atlanta. She grew up attending a Solomon Schechter school and living a relatively normal Jewish American life. She spoke Spanish in her household and listened to a lot of Hebrew music. Adina said she had felt that growing up in Israel was a big part of her family’s life and that they were constantly thinking about the nation. Later, after high school, she planned to do a gap year in Israel and then go to Tufts University. For the gap year, she was participating in a program in Israel and found herself constantly thinking about how she wanted to stay in Israel. When Adina’s parents came to visit, she told them she didn’t want to leave and they did not look favorably upon it, so she spent a week trying to convince them. When her parents were leaving they told her that the choice was up to her and obviously, she decided to stay, make aliyah, and then join the IDF. Adina joined the Lone Soldier program after her gap year. In the IDF, Adina serves as a social worker for her fellow soldiers.
As she spoke, she not only explained her stories and her tasks as a soldier, but she also allowed us to ask her questions. One thing that really grabbed my attention was her job in the army. I did not know that the job of a social worker existed in the army. Many aspects of Adina’s position are fascinating. For example, she works to help the Israeli Lone Soldiers work out issues with their families and she does this while traveling all over the country. Another topic she was asked about was why she made aliyah and joined the army, instead of just making aliyah. Adina’s answered that in order to be truly a part of the culture here and be an Israeli, she had to do what every Israeli is required to do. She did not feel that she could fully belong here if she wasn’t part of the IDF. This mindset is something that stuck with me, especially on Yom HaZikaron. Yom HaZikaron is such an influential day because everyone in some way or form is affected and Adina, being in the army, is now affected also.
Adina’s story changed my perspective on the Israeli army experience. She did this by explaining her job responsibilities and how she helps people. I did not realize how much the army does for people, soldiers or citizens, in addition to protecting them. Adina was talking about how she buys people furniture for their apartments and how good it feels to help people even if it just helping them get the basics. This surprised me because I did not realize that this was a task people in the army would do. On top of that I did not realize that Adina’s job existed and her job showed me how much the army really wants to support the soldiers. Another way she, along with the Day of Remembrance, changed my perspective was by showing me how much pride the soldiers in the army as well as the citizens have for Israel. It is an amazing aspect of the culture that I do not think exists nationwide in America. Adina showed me, on a new level, just how special of a country Israel is and why it means so much to be in the IDF.
Paige Tankel is a sophomore from Rye Brook, New York. She belongs to Kneses Tifereth Israel and has been involved in J Teen leadership.