Several months ago, I received a phone call from a friend asking me to join with him and others and volunteer for the Israeli army. Before I could hang up the phone, I told my friend that I would join ...
Retired General Aharon Davidi with David Glassman
Excerpts from Journal of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity, Volume 96, Number 1, May 2003:
Our family has always been strong supporters of Israel. In all, we have been to Israel seven times. Some friends even told me that it was too dangerous, and I was crazy going to Israel at this time. I felt the State of Israel needed me even more because of the terrorism. This would be my seventh trip to the land of milk and honey and it would turn out to be the most rewarding.
One of the interesting things about the volunteer program is that you do not know where you are going and what you will be doing. We were shown our bunks in the barracks and taken to our work area. We first tested the two way and one way on and off switch. Then we inspected the wiring, speakers, microphones, and microphone shields. Some units needed minor repairs and others need everything rewired and replaced including the circuit board. This program alone saved the IDF two and one half million dollars a year. The ten volunteers assigned to our workroom gave Oleg and I support by bringing in used equipment, polishing, cleaning and rechecking the electronics of the fixed and repaired helmet headsets.
Our daily schedule consisted of breakfast at seven, news briefings at eight, flag raising at eight-fifteen; Work with tea break from eight-thirty to twelve. Lunch from twelve to thirteen hundred. Work to seventeen hundred, dinner at eighteen hundred, and an activity a few times a week at nineteen hundred.
During the evenings we had lectures and trips to Tel-Aviv and other cities with army guides. The weekends we had off which allowed George and I to travel to Jerusalem. We stayed at the King Solomon Hotel at a reduced rates based upon being volunteers. I walked through the old city and visited the Kotel a number of times. Unfortunately, there were not many tourists to be seen. Each time I would walk through the Jewish quarter I could hear praying and singing from the surrounding synagogues. Familiar shops and shop owners had closed their stores or had sold out. Business was down eighty percent.
The volunteers at our base were from America, Canada, Germany, Holland, South Africa, Brazil and Australia. The youngest volunteer was in her early twenties and the oldest in his early seventies. Some volunteers worked inside and some outside. Due to a general inspection of the base, we all had some outside duties. Breakfast and dinner was not overly attended. Many of the soldiers lived at home or with family members. Lunch would be served buffet style to two to three hundred solders at a time. The food was never hot. But, you were in the army.
The weeks went by quickly. Box after box of repaired and fixed headsets went to the solders in the field. Our morning briefings indicated where our headsets had gone to fight terrorism. During the briefings of the war effort, all of us would look at each other with a sense of pride.
Towards the end of our duty, our Madricha, Nurit, spoke to us about her last days in the army. General Davidi, the general in charge of the Sar-El program, presented Oleg and I certificates of appreciation for our volunteer work in Israel. Oleg Milstein and I did not have to be thanked. We had a deep feeling of satisfaction knowing that we personally helped Israels fighting young men and women. After talking with the commander of the base General Yuval Gazit and saying goodbye to our new friends, I turned in my army uniform and left for Jerusalem.
What a trip.
What a country.
What a people.
Next year in Jerusalem.
David M Glassman, Sar-El volunteer