Israeli citizen contemplates his future after high school

This is the logo of the Israeli Defense Force. Those who chose to move to Israel and become a part of the army have several options and pathways to choose from.

From Public Domain

This is the logo of the Israeli Defense Force. Those who chose to move to Israel and become a part of the army have several options and pathways to choose from.

Shahar Hartman, Contributing Writer

The Israeli Military, Ha Tzava, is a large part of Israeli culture. In America, many kids learn about different colleges and start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. However, in Israel, at a young age, kids start looking at different sections of the military and dream about where they will get drafted. When they turn 16 and a half, they get a letter from the Israeli government that gives them a time and place where they will have a preliminary interview and take the psychometric tests (think SAT). These tests account for about 50 percent of a total score, Kaba, that determines what jobs are available for them. The other factors are a full interview and their formal education. Scores range from 0-56. A score under 41 means that the person does not serve in the IDF, Israeli Defense Force, and a score of 56 means every job is open for them. There is an option to postpone the military service if you volunteer for a full year, Shnat Sherut, or study the Torah, Yeshivat Heseder, or go to college in Israel first, Atuda Academayit.

A lot of my friends are returning to Israel either at the end of this year or once they graduate to go serve in the army. The students who are returning after junior year go back to take all the tests and prepare for the army. They are labeled as regular Israeli soldiers and go through a very similar process as the Israeli teenagers go through. When they arrive, they are adopted into an Israeli community with other members their age through a program called, Garin Tzabar, which helps teens to immigrate to Israel, or make Aliyah, from all over the world and assimilate them into the culture. They are given three months to adjust to their new life by receiving accelerated classes in Hebrew and having someone help them with the bureaucratic side of immigrating and meeting new people. Once they join the army, they follow one of hundreds of paths and socialize with the people they originally met when preparing for the army.

To be honest, I am not sure if I want to go. Currently I think that college is a better fit for me, but the army is always there as a backup plan. It is good to know that if I ever want to join, I easily could and would have the support around me so that I would not feel out of place. A lot of my friends have asked me, “Why would you feel out of place?” I was born in America, have only been to Israel a handful of times and I have a pretty noticeable accent. When I am with my American friends, I am the most Israeli kid, but when I am with my Israeli friends, I am the most American kid. However, I proudly say that I am Israeli-American, that both my parents served in the IDF and that my sister is enlisting this December after she has finished college. High school is flying by, my time in Brookline, the only home I have ever known, is almost over, and it is just comforting to know that there is this option in Israel waiting for me.