Sisterhood Blog

Gilad Shalit Inspires My Daughter To Join the IDF

By Judy Bolton-Fasman

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Aviva Shalit at a 2010 demonstration to free her son.

My daughter was the first person to tell me that an agreement had been reached for Gilad Shalit’s release. Her voice was joyous in a “shouting-from-the-rooftop” kind of way. Shalit’s captivity has been very much on my teenage daughter’s mind since she saw the halting video of Gilad as a prisoner of war two years ago. After her first viewing, she marched into our bedroom with her laptop and said, “You need to watch this.”

On that video, Gilad was painfully young, painfully sad and painfully thin. He was taken into captivity in June of 2006 when he was just 19 years old — less than two years older than my daughter is today.

“I’ll translate for you,” my girl said quietly.

She told us that Shalit plaintively asked his father, brother and sister, “Do you remember the day you came to visit me at my base in the Golan Heights?” Gilad also said that he scanned newspapers for information to stoke optimism for his release. “I hope to find some kind of information indicating that my release and return home are imminent,” my daughter continued.

I could barely watch the short film without projecting the faces of my children, their cousins, and their friends onto Gilad’s tired face.

At the end of the video Shalit stood up and walked a bit. His gait, as far as I could tell, was good. His voice was strong. My girl closed the laptop and as she breezed out of our room she said, “I’m going to join the Israeli army. I’ve looked into it. There’s a special IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) program for non-Israelis that I can do as a gap year between high school and college.”

When did she look into joining the Israeli Defense Forces?!

And with that, my daughter left two stunned parents in her wake.

My husband was not happy about his girl joining the Israeli army, or any army for that matter. I wasn’t so sure. Hadn’t we nurtured her Zionism by sending her to Jewish day schools and taking her to Israel twice? Our daughter easily translated Gilad Shalit’s words from Hebrew to English. On every college tour we’ve been on this year, she raises her hand and asks if Hebrew is one of the languages offered on campus. She wants to study at the Technion. She wants to be a doctor at Hadassah Hospital

Honestly, what did we expect?

My girl has told me that she is also a dyed-in-the-blue-wool Zionist. She says that her staunch commitment to Israel makes her more politically more conservative than I am. (There are many ways to love Israel, I tell her. I sound weak in the face of her youthful passion). If she joins the Israeli army, I pray that she will understand the crucial difference between fighting the enemy and becoming the enemy.

And I pray that I will be smart enough to remember that my success as a mother is not measured by whether my children share my beliefs or politics. But rather it’s a deeper accomplishment in which my kids are true to their own values.

And for the record, you heard it here first: If my daughter chooses to serve in the Israeli army, I plan to be in Israel early and often.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Zionism, Shalit, IDF, Gap Year

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.