Military courthouse soldiers work with teens

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

Each week, soldiers and commanders of the military court in Jaffa spend a few hours working with at-risk teens helping with homework or simply lending a listening ear

Date: 06/06/2011, 8:55 PM     Author: Amnon Direktor

Soldiers and commanders of the military court in Jaffa don’t rest for a minute. Every day, tens of trials and hearings take place at the unit and thousands of cases pass through it every year. Despite the load, soldiers and commanders find time and energy to volunteer every week at an after school program for at-risk youth. The project began two years ago and has since gained huge success.

Soldiers volunteer at a youth center called Kadima (ahead), part of the organization Leshova (meaning to return to a state of satiation). The center’s goal is to advance teens from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds, and gives a home to as many as 40 kids sent by Tel Aviv’s Welfare Department. Each week a number of soldiers, judges and commanders from the unit join the kids when the school day ends for a few hours of fun, help with homework and simply talking.

The contribution came from the unit’s desire to further a community service project. “It was important to us to express our being soldiers in the IDF (Zahal),” says a commander in the unit. “We decided to work with teenagers in order to give them a positive experience with the army and in hopes that in the future the exposure will give them motivation. Moreover, we knew that when you give you get,” she continued.

“According to the soldiers, this is an opportunity to break a routine of pressure and never-ending work at the unit. In addition, seeing the professionalism of the teenagers and being able to help someone else is amazing and warms the heart.”

Sgt. Maayan Elbaz, an administrative soldier at the military courthouse unit taking part in the project, spoke about the work at the youth center. “In my opinion, this project is very important and satisfying,” she said. “We go there to give the kids a feeling that they are not alone. A lot of the kids at youth centers don’t get to meet soldiers and I’m sure that for them it’s something special.”

Sgt. Elbaz says that the meeting alone with soldiers makes the kids feel more Israeli and more connected to the country. “For me, personally and as a soldier, giving is really important, more than army work. I understand the importance of giving and helping when you can. I recommend it to everyone.”