The search for meaning

April 5, 2017

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

A week ago, I visited a beautiful military training base for soldiers with difficulties (called Raful’s Youth)

For six hours, I gave a series of lectures and got to know amazing people. It is hard to describe in words those young recruits. Most of them has very low grades and didn’t finish elementary school. Yet they seemed so are smart and sensitive. They told me about their difficulties and their dreams. They told me how important it was for them that someone believes in them.

But the story I want to share is about one of their commanding officers (and they only have women as officers). I had dinner with one of their officers. A young woman who was born in Israel but left at an early age to the US. Her parents wanted her to have a better future, no wars, no housing problems, no worries.

When she went to college, she represented Israel on campus and always encountered groups of students who demonstrated against Israel. When she tried to argue with them, they told her: “You have no right to speak, you were not in the Israeli army, you do not know what you’re talking about!”

So, despite the parents’ opposition, she decided to leave everything, go to Israel and enlist in the army as a mentor and commander of recruits at that military base. “I wanted to influence the lives of recruits with difficulties, and it’s hard for me to describe how meaningful I am to them, how much the entire staff is doing important work here,” she told me.

I asked her if she did not want to go back to the family and friends after the service. She replied, “I don’t have much in common with my old friends, their life is very comfortable but empty of meaning.”

I did not give up and asked: “But many people think that live in Israel is too difficult.” She smiled with shy and said: “Everywhere there are difficulties, the question is what difficulties I choose to face, and I choose to deal with the difficulties here and do what I can to help them. The future seemed to be better in America, but only after I lived there did I know that Israel is the place for me”. Then she bite of her Shakshuka (local Israeli dish) as if she did not say anything special. It was so clear to her that this is how things should be.

I left the base admiring her along with entire team and young recruits, who come to one of the rare places he truly believes in them and wants them to succeed.

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