• Hillel at Virginia Tech

Summer '18: Birthright Day 7

Jordan Birnholz

On Wednesday, May 30th, we visited an IDF base. The base was for the special and prestigious IDF dog handlers. It was truly amazing to be able to see the capabilities they have, they have so must trust and respect in their unit because they are so critical to many missions. They save many lives and, one person said to me “that I am just trying to get home alive." I know they can only help that dream so I trust them. Next we went to Ahim La 'Haim, Brothers for Life, which is an organization that helps male soldiers who were wounded in combat. I took this too my heart listening to their stories since I am in ROTC. Their trauma is very real to me since I have spoken to many veterans before. Tragedy can strike at any time. But this organization helped to rehab the people physically and mentally, they open their home for these people in need. Without groups like these, many of these solders would not get the help they need and be stuck facing their own personal conflicts for years. Today was a day that I really reflected on what it meant to be Jewish. To me this trip is less spiritual or religious, but that I almost feel a little guilty for not Joining the IDF. I feel like that it is not fair to them that I share their burden, consider Israel my home but I do not fight to protect it like they do. Yes, living in America, I should fight to protect my country but America has enough soldiers and weapons. So, it just makes me think a lot about where I want to take my future.


By: Jordan Birnholz and Amanda Gladstone

Amanda Gladstone

Our day started with a hike in Jerusalem Hills. There were beautiful views and it made me really appreciate the hard work the people of Israel do to make the country greener. After our hike, we stopped for a quick lunch at a mall. Our next big activity was to visit an IDF army base. The base was actually where one of our IDF soldiers, Gaya, is serving! We learned all about her unit, Oketz, which is the sole K-9 unit for the entire IDF. We learned about the different functions of the dogs and their handlers and how important their work is to the IDF. These dogs can sniff out weaponry/ammo, attack terrorists, sniff for land mines, and other general security measures. These soldiers work really hard to be a part of this unit and after hearing for days about what Gaya’s role is, it was so special to visit her base and learn more. Learning about the IDF on this trip has been really influential because we have had a chance to get a glimpse of how crucial, sacred, and important these soldiers are. The IDF is working to protect Israel every single day and it has been an absolute honor and privilege to get to know our 6 soldiers.

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