December 5, 2023 -
Reflections on the first half of our day, from the Jacobs/Mersack Family: Marc, Melinda, Isaiah, Eli, and Kiva.
Yesterday, we visited Havat HaShomer, an IDF army base that trains disadvantaged youth and provides them with extra training and remedial education. In Israel, there is a strong correlation between military service and success in careers and society, so success at Havat HaShomer means not only being able to successfully integrate into the IDF for these teenagers’ required military service, but also a successful path into Israeli society as an adult.
Yakira, a 19-year-old female commander, told us about the challenges of working with these teenage boys, many of whom also have anger management issues. It was heartening to learn of their substantial successes, as 70% of their trainees do go on to complete their service in the military.
The courage and commitment of the female commanders that train these youth is inspiring. They truly live the value that we as Jews hold dear, b’tselem Elohim, each of us is a life with value as we are all created in God’s image. Yakira described her work with these boys with such honesty and compassion, that we were all moved.
While the adults met with Yakira, the kids experienced their own “basic training” with other commanders from the base. Crawling under ropes over rocks while wearing real army shirts just gave them a glimpse of what training would be like for them as an Israeli soldier. They had so much fun while bonding with their commanders!