Growing Up “Israeli”

23 Aug

August 22, 2012. On that warm Tuesday I arrived in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, was whisked away on a bus whose airconditioning must have ceased working years ago. Frequently before this moment, I had heard stories of ascending the stairs in the airport and entering the airport branch of the Interior Ministry in order become a citizen of Israel. A couple of hours later, I walked out of the building as an Israeli, but that was just the beginning, I was still an “Israeli infant.”

I had already enrolled in a yeshiva whose primary population is Israeli. Two days later, in a small gathering in Jerusalem, I received my official Israeli identification card. As part of the absorption process, several visits to government offices were necessary, forcing me to tumble through the hoops of a bureaucracy that is entirely in Hebrew. The guys in my yeshiva celebrated my aliyah with me with singing and dancing. Although embarrassed, I appreciated the support and passion of my fellow students. With my new citizenship came the responsibility of participating in the rotation of students whose job it is to stand on guard, which meant taking a couple of days out of learning in order to learn how to properly operate a firearm. And so, I graduated from toddler to teen.

Unfortunately, the process of growing up Israeli would be expedited in November as Hamas treated me to my first war. Friends were called to their reserve units, while trying to maintain focus on our learning, we were glued to the various news services, as more and more friends were activated by the army. Thankfully there was no ground offensive and the war ended after a week, but not before I would twice have to scramble for a bomb shelter, awoken once from a nap. Later in the year we would have drills, which in true Israeli fashion, I ignored. 

In March I appeared for the first time at the drafting office in Jerusalem, exactly seven months after making aliyah. Since then, considerable time has been spent attempting to clarify my army service, which will likely begin in the coming months. 

Next week I will head back to Israel after summering and working in Washington, set to take the first steps into Israeli adulthood. Having ticked the boxes on a number of quintessential Israeli moments, I wonder which one will be next.

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2 Responses to “Growing Up “Israeli””

  1. pam 14 FriUTC2013-08-23T13:19:47+00:00UTC08bUTCFri, 23 Aug 2013 13:19:47 +0000, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I am continuously so proud of both you and your sister.

  2. Andrea 14 SunUTC2013-08-25T05:43:32+00:00UTC08bUTCSun, 25 Aug 2013 05:43:32 +0000, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    I am always proud of you too!

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