All the Way from Ukraine

She came to Israel by herself, took matriculation exams and drafted in the IAF. Lt. Diana Itzkovitch speaks about the difficulties of a new immigrant and her dream of becoming an officer

Shachar Zorani | Translation: Eden Sharon

Lt. Diana Itzkovitch serves as an adjutant in the “Valley” squadron and takes great pride in her work. But the road to that position and to service in general, was full of obstacles. Lt. Diana moved to Israel from Ukraine when she was 17.

“I had no connection to Judaism in Ukraine”, she explains. “One day I heard about the ‘Jewish Agency for Israel’ and its program involving youngsters coming to Israel before their parents. I decided to apply for the tests”.
A month after taking the tests, Diana received a positive response and suddenly faced a tough decision – should she abandon her familiar and comfortable life behind and move to Israel? Or maybe she should stay with friends and family in Ukraine? “I trusted my fate”, she says. “I left everything and went out to the unknown”.

“Women don’t go to the army in Ukraine”
Upon her arrival, Lt. Diana was housed in Kibbutz “Shoval” and was sent to school. She faced a new language, different society and a foreign country, all alone.

“It wasn’t easy”, she shares. “I was sometimes homesick, even though my mom supported me throughout the process. In addition there was a mental difference between us and the Israelis which created social divisions, an unpleasant situation as well”.

It was school where Diana was first exposed to the IDF. “Women don’t go to the army in Ukraine”, she says. “When I told my mom I’m drafting in the army she was shocked”.

Just like a Native Israeli
When Lt. Diana entered service in the IAF she was offered many positions, but she did not know any of them and knew only one thing -she wants to become an officer.

“I wanted to feel like I make a difference and that I’m a part of the organization called IDF”, she says. Eventually she was positioned as a squadron commander’s secretary. “Already in our first acquaintance talk I told him I wanted to become an officer”, continues Diana. “I knew that’s where I want to be. I wanted to prove that we can do just as well as the Israelis”.
After ten months of service she managed to meet her goal and set off for the Officer’s Course.

Despite struggling, Lt. Diana graduated from the course and even managed to bring her mother all the way from Ukraine to watch her at the graduation ceremony.
“I love the military service”, she adds. “I met a lot of wonderful people who took care of me all the way long. I’m very proud to be an officer in the IAF”.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday
Lt. Diana will celebrate Passover with her adopting family. “It’s actually a special story”, she says smiling. “Before drafting, when I graduated from school, I was job-hunting for a while. I called many people and visited a lot of stores but because I was young and inexperienced, nobody wanted to employ me. The last woman I called was very nice, but she still didn’t accept me”.
A few hours later, the lady called back and decided to give Diana a chance. “When I left my apartment in Ashdod and had nowhere to go, I called my boss and she immediately invited me to her house. They’ve been my adopting family ever since”.