Reunited as IDF Paratroopers

Two childhood friends from Denmark, who lost touch, separately volunteered to enlist to the IDF (Zahal) – and ended up serving in the same Paratroopers platoon

Date: 31/01/2012, 11:46 AM     Author: Bamahane Magazine

Emotional reunions don’t only happen in movies: Pvt. Jacob Goldstein and Pvt. Akiva Charney were best friends growing up in Denmark, and now they picked up from where they left off in the IDF (Zahal) Paratroopers’ training base.

When they were in tenth grade, they were forced to separate after years of friendship when they were assigned to different high schools. They both decided to immigrate to Israel and voluntarily enlist to the IDF (Zahal), years after they had lost touch.

“When I finished my studies I decided to come to Israel for a year as a part of ‘World Bnei Akiva’ and experience the country,” said Jacob. “I ended up staying in Israel and in May 2011 I enlisted in the IDF (Zahal).”

Three months earlier, Akiva also decided to leave Europe and volunteer to serve as an IDF (Zahal) soldier. He remembers his enlistment day: “Suddenly, I saw a familiar figure in the distance,” he recalled. “I get a little closer and see that he is eyeing me suspiciously as well, so we just grabbed each other. We were in the middle of the base just hugging each other and shouting. It was such a surreal and exciting moment,” described Jacob.

From that moment the two were inseparable: they spent three months together at Mikve Alon Base, where they were prepared for service as new immigrants with a special program the IDF (Zahal) Youth and Education Corps offers to improve Hebrew skills and better fit into society.

They went together to the Paratrooper trial and completed the exams with flying colors. They then arrived at basic training where they discovered they had been assigned to the same battalion, 202, and even to the same platoon.

“Sometimes if it gets tough for us in the field, we can talk to each other in Danish,” said Jacob. “Suddenly you have someone with whom you can speak freely, someone who knows you, who more or less knows what you’re going through. It’s amazing to share something like this with your best friend, and to be able to get his help whenever you need it.”

 Every year hundreds of teens from all around the world volunteer to immigrate to Israel and serve in the IDF (Zahal) in a variety of combat, intelligence, commanding and other positions. A lot of these soldiers choose to become officers and contribute even more to the security of the State of Israel. Aided by programs such as Garin Tzabar that faciliate their enlistment, these brave teens live alone in Israel and engange in a meaningful IDF (Zahal) service.