Three young, motivated women explain why they decided to serve the State of Israel as combat soldiers instead of doing national service like other observant girls their age. When 21-year-old Sari Michael of Netanya joined the Caracal Battalion in March 2013, she received surprised reactions from her close and distant surroundings. At her parents' request, Michael began doing national service at the Defense Ministry, but realized after several months that her goal was significant combat service.
She got her share of experiences at the Caracal Battalion, which mainly deals with securing the Israel-Egypt border. As for her difficulties as an observant Jew, she says: "It's clear that during action it's more problematic and harder to implement, but I believe that any soldier who wants to be religious can be religious. This may sound strange to some soldiers, but Michael doesn’t have a hard time when she is forced to stay in the army on Shabbat. Asked whether she hesitated before making aliyah and joining the IDF, she replies decisively in an enchanting French accent: "I have been very Zionist ever since I was a little girl. Ornella's brother, who also immigrated to Israel, didn’t serve in the army, so her decision to sign up for combat service raised eyebrows in her family. Hila Lev Ari, 20, from Moshav Bareket, serves in the Home Front Command's rescue battalion.
She was motivated to join combat service following a terror attack in 2002, in which terrorists fired at hotels in Netanya, murdered two and injured many. Alex: I had always intended on going and I felt like now would be the best time to capitalize on the experience. Alex: I made multiple connections on this trip with those from the DC area as well as the Israelis that were on the trip with us the whole time.


Alex: I like to go to Friday night service and get together with friends for dinner and wine after. Alex: Sticking to my Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry I am naturally obsessed with matzo ball soup. Meet Ornella, Sari and Hila, three religious female fighters who are convinced that despite the many difficulties, a religious girl who wishes to contribute to her people belongs in the army. She studied at the Bar-Ilan religious girls' school, where she says the educational staff conveyed a clear message that the best place for a young woman from the national-religious sector is national service.
Her father was born in Israel, her mother in France, and her family lives in 15th arrondissement of Paris. Although we are three religious soldiers out of 80 in the battalion, the boys know I am religious and respect me. These days, she and her fellow soldier have been stationed in one of the hottest areas in Samaria. After I graduated from Old Dominion University (located in Norfolk, VA) I decided DC would be the best place to look for work and cultivate my career considering I am interested in politics and law. I felt like I was at an age that I could fully comprehend and appreciate everything that these birthright trips have to offer. It was certainly a difficult feat climbing on the way up but once we got to the top to witness the sunrise and learn about to history of Masada the climb was completely worth it. I try to stay as restful as possible on Saturday’s but I generally end up having to run errands due to my busy schedule during the week. Anytime it’s really cold out or I’m sick I will make a fresh pot of matzo ball soup from scratch.


She is the epitome of a strong willed Jewish woman paving the way not only Jews but women as well. Every year, the army receives more and more religious female recruits, who are not only enlisting for traditional roles in the Education Corps, but are also joining combat units. There is the Kiddush, there are prayers in the synagogue, we sit through the meals and laugh. As there was no Jewish educational institution near her home, she studied in a public school with many Muslim students.
She studied in the Sha'alvim religious girls' high school and later in Yigal Alon High School.
We have actually all stayed in constant contact through social media and the DC residents have been getting together on the weekends a lot. It was incredible to have that experience in Israel along side so many amazing people that have now become life long friends. For example, she single handedly raised $50 million in 1948 to purchase weapons to protect the young country even though everyone told her it was not possible.
Persevering and protecting her people are things she constantly clung to which is truly admirable.



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