We are surrounded by wondrous coincidences, seemingly ordinary moments that wake us up from our routine lives. Whether it is meeting our true love or just a simple phone call, these moments can transform our lives. In the spirit of Hanukkah, we have collected five inspiring stories that have happened in the IDF (Zahal) over the past year.
Love at First Smile
When Capt. Theo Yibloshnik, 26, and Lieutenant Lital Sonnino, 25, drafted to the IDF (Zahal), neither could’ve imagined that they would also find the love of their lives. After finishing their mandatory service, they both chose to continue their service as officers in the IDF (Zahal). Theo and Lital met each other at an officers training event for their battalion in the Home Front Command. When Theo smiled, Lital knew she had found the love of her life. A few weeks ago, Theo and Lital celebrated their wedding, bonding them together in both love and service.
A Miracle In Nepal
Magy, an 18-year-old dancer, was one of the first patients in the IDF (Zahal) field hospital set up to help those injured in the earthquake in Nepal. He was trapped under rubble for two days with a severely injured back, right hand and head trauma. No one thought he would ever be able to stand up by himself again. Three weeks and three major surgeries later, IDF (Zahal) medical staff watched as Magy stood up and started walking.
Lieutenant Colonel Martine Barhom, the officer responsible for patient intake and rehabilitation, was moved when she saw Magy walking again. “We all hugged him. He was our inspiration. It was truly a miracle,” she said.
Paying It Forward
Major Benny Eyali, a deputy battalion commander, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1983 when he was just five years old. His journey was anything but easy. He and his family left their village in Ethiopia and walked nearly 500 miles to Sudan, where the Mossad picked them up and brought them to Israel. Maj. Eyali drafted to the IDF (Zahal) in 1997 and went on to become an officer. After beating extraordinary odds, Maj. Eyali made sure to help others do the same. Over the years, Maj. Eyali has worked with 20 Ethiopian teens who have police records. He guides them through their service in the IDF (Zahal), helping them get their lives back on track.
“Life Is Good and Worth Living”
Nothing in his life ever prepared Captain Omri Hotam to face the shattering diagnosis of ALS. Before the diagnosis, Capt. Hotam’s life was completely ordinary. Like most Israelis, Capt. Hotam finished high school and drafted to the IDF (Zahal) where he served as a soldier, commander, and eventually officer in the Paratroopers Brigade.
After the diagnosis, Capt. Hotam refused to let the rare disease derail his life. He transferred to a role in the Military Intelligence Directorate where he can take advantage of his abilities and be productive. “Life is good and worth living,” he said. “Ultimately, the only way for me to handle this disease is to carry on with my life as much as I can – I have decided to continue working, serving in the army, traveling, and enjoying life.”
The IDF (Zahal)’s Most Unique Intelligence Team
The soldiers that serve in a special program within the Intelligence Corps’ 9900 unit, are some of IDF (Zahal)’s most valued soldiers. Each and every one of them is also on the autism spectrum. Instead of being limited, these soldiers use their incredible ability to analyze, interpret and understand satellite images and maps.
Although these soldiers were exempt from army service, they insisted on being treated just like their peers. “I face challenges and I manage to hold my own. Take on the challenges,” one of the soldiers explained. “It’s a great opportunity to serve, like others, and to connect to the society we live in.”