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Beyond the call of duty
dfrankfurter | May 31, 2006 at 07:22 pmby
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Army service is a part of growing up for most Israeli youth, although young religious women can be exempted. An alternative volunteer national service framework exists for young religious women who nevertheless want to contribute a year of their lives to the country.
As I told you in June 2003, our second daughter, Tamara, chose to join the army and had a very fulfilling experience. Our eldest daughter, Naomi, volunteered for National Service. She wanted to make sure that what she did really contributed, and insisted on doing a full two years, giving at least as much as her secular friends in the army.
When we first arrived in Israel, we were greatly assisted by an immigrant support organization called "Tehilla". They arranged for a family who had arrived a little before us to take us under their wing – and we did the same for the next family. On landing late at night, we found our beds were made and our fridge was stocked with basic necessities to "get started". One of the Tehilla National Service girls came every week to tutor the children, and to be an encouraging friend. After I finished an intensive language course, Tehilla activated its wide volunteer network and helped me find my first job.
Naomi decided to do her National Service with Tehilla – giving back some of what we had received some seven years earlier. Volunteer organizations are naturally understaffed, so responsibility is quickly thrust on anyone willing to take it. Managing the office, arranging and leading group "pilot trip" tours of Israel for potential immigrants to scout out housing, schooling and employment, tutoring children and finding people jobs were all part of a normal day. She learned important skills which she took with her to University, and as a graduate, to her first job.
Naomi touched many people, and made many friends. To this day, she tutors children arriving "fresh off the boat" to our community in Ra'anana. Not just helping with schoolwork, but becoming an "older sister", a friend and a role model who has so successfully gone through that difficult adjustment to a new language, a new society and a new culture.
One of the people Naomi met during her time at Tehilla was a young New Yorker, called Aryeh Brickner. She led his pilot tour and helped plan his immigration. They met up again a few months ago, and Aryeh has now been in the country for five years. He lives in the northern beach town of Nahariya, close to his job as a marketing manager in a hi-tech company. With his army service behind him, he has settled in well.
It seems that in the case of our family and Aryeh, Tehilla went above and beyond its normal immigrant assistance program. Naomi and Aryeh have found love - and have just announced their engagement!
Rochelle and I are naturally very excited, feeling very blessed. We look forward to sharing more good news with you in the future!
Naomi and Aryeh