One of the most unique branches of the IDF (Zahal) is its Education Corps, faced with a variety of tasks involving the promotion of national values. This one-of-a-kind branch works in a range of fields connecting the IDF (Zahal) with Israeli society.
Cpl. Yael Shtockman is one of the many soldier-teachers that work in Israeli schools across the country. As a Hebrew teacher in an elementary school in Beer Sheva, she is tasked with educating new immigrants and incorporating them into Israeli society. Her unique role as a soldier and teacher gives her a special opportunity to work closely with children.
Cpl. Shtockman works with the students every day, making her service different from many other soldiers in the IDF (Zahal). “My goal is for the students to have the courage to speak in class,” she says. “Not just to sit in the classroom and understand, but also to speak amongst themselves.” She encourages the students by playing games, singing songs, and reading books with them.
Cpl. Shtockman notes that the first step towards incorporation into Israeli society is learning to read and write Hebrew. “Language is the central piece of a culture,” she acknowledges, “and I am trying to teach them the language as much as possible.”
The Education Corps was founded in 1957 and its representatives can be found in every branch and unit of the IDF (Zahal). The corps duties include educating commanders and soldiers, developing leadership skills, teaching heritage and culture, incorporating minorities and special communities into the IDF (Zahal), and spreading the values and Spirit of the IDF (Zahal).
Cpl. Shtockman concludes that the importance of the Education Corps is to demonstrate a human aspect of the IDF (Zahal), something that is not common in other armies throughout the world. “Part of our obligation as a nation is to help our citizens in every way possible,” she says. “The IDF (Zahal) does more than just defend the nation. It is not only in charge of the security of its citizens, but also their education.”