This past summer I took advantage of my birthright and participated in a 10 day immersion of travel, religion and culture throughout Israel. I joined an organization called Shorashim, which sponsors these excursions and schedule of events, and on May 24th arranged for our group of 40 young adults to fly from Chicago to Tel Aviv!
After 14 hours of flying and one layover in Austria, we were ecstatic to be on the ground at our final destination. We were quickly greeted by our Israeli tour guide, Adi, and 7 other young adults. I immediately noticed that these strangers were dressed in full military uniform – that’s odd, I thought to myself, as I also took note how the boys and girls looked very similar in age to me.
Part of the Birthright experience is to learn what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is about, and what life is like for youth in Israel once they turn 18. In short, every Israeli is required to serve in the IDF as a tribute to their country.
I have been home from Israel for 4 months now, and reached out to one of the Israelis from my group so that she could share a brief overview of her time in the IDF.
- Name = Maya Byle
- Age = 21
- Where do you live in Israel = Ramat Hasharon
- How long have you been serving = 1 year & 11 months
- How much longer do you have = 2 months
- What part of the IDF do you serve?
- “I serve in the air force, where I work in the control unit and guide people to become air traffic controllers.”
- Why do you feel it’s important to serve in the IDF?
- “I feel it’s important because Israel is on constant threat. No matter what division and all positions big and small, this is our way to defend our country.”
- What has been the most worthwhile experience being in the IDF?
- “It is worthwhile to me to see the people that I guided for 6 months successfully finish their training and become qualified to work the position on their own. And know that my one job is defending our whole country.”
- What are your plans for when your term is over?
- “After my term is over I will do the Israeli version of the college admission exam. But I also want to be free to travel the world before attending University so I will take time off to study and travel. I have family in America in Ohio so I want to go there. Maybe start University when I am 25.”
I didn’t know Maya was so close to finishing her service until we reconnected for this conversation, and it was comforting to hear her overall appreciativeness toward her time in the IDF and that she is excited for the opportunities to come!
Overall, I am constantly extending a warm thank you to my friend Maya, the other soldiers I have developed a relationship with and everyone else that shows great honor by serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
For more information on Maya’s service to the Israeli Air Force visit here