“One moment is seared into my memory. An elderly person walked up to me and thanked me for volunteering inhe IDF”
Corporal Nathaniel decided to enlist against all odds
“After we said good-bye, I felt an supreme feeling of victory”
Visiting the Western Wall Hundreds of young Jews arrive to Israel as a part of project ‘Taglit-Birthright’, and get an up close and personal look at the Promised Land together with IDF soldiers. The last delegation included Corporal Netanel Yehudah: a 22 year old man with a muscular dystrophy condition who decided to enlist against all odds
Shir Golan | Translation: Loren Mashiah
Anyone who has ever been on a Taglit journey has memories of the unforgettable experience: The tour around the old city of Jerusalem, the special moments in the Yad VaShem Holocaust museum and the climbing of mount Metzda. Young Jews from the United States and Israel who discover the amazing connection between their two worlds in between Mount Yehuda and Jezreel Valley.
“These are the experiences you carry with you, but my main memory is the discussion we had about living in different places around the world”, says Corporal Netanel Yehudah, who was personally a part of the Taglit project alongside a delegation of disabled members. Netanel has a muscular dystrophy condition called SMA type 2, which causes dysfunctional legs, necessitating the uses of a wheelchair. “For the first time in my life I was able to maneuver myself outside of the house, with no relative or friend to assist me. I gained new abilities and learned that I could deal with every situation I’m destined to face”.
An Overwhelming feeling of Victory
The intermingling of disabled people in the Taglit project isn’t to be taken for granted, much like the recruitment to the IDF. 22 year old Netanel chose to volunteer to the IDF, became a military graphic designer in the instructional services unit of the IAF and is operating today as an adjutant of the unit. “I recruited for many reasons”, explains Netanel. “I grew up in a conservative house which gave us values and patriotism towards Israel and I knew I had the power to do it. Besides, I wanted to be like everyone else– meet new people, deal with orders and discipline, I wanted to feel what it was like to be in the military”.
As a part of Taglit he left the military life for a week of new experiences. “Throughout the journey, I went through some very moving moments but one specific moment really stayed in my mind”, says Netanel. “We visited Mount Herzel, and as a soldier I had my uniform on. An older man came to the site with his grandchildren. He came up to me and thanked me for being a part of the army. He asked me to take a picture with him and said to them that when the time came and they would have to enlist, they should remember this picture. After our paths crossed I felt a great feeling of victory. After serving in the army for a year and a half I think I was able to pass on my message–we are all apart of the Israeli community no matter the religion, race, sex or disability”.