A scoop in the family

February 8, 2010 - 11:28 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, coexistence, General, Israeliness, Life, Religion, Social Justice, War 

Elinor Joseph with my daughter (not shown). Photo: Ma'ariv

I think my children know that I make a living as a journalist – but sometimes I’m not sure.

My daughter, who’s currently in basic training in Karkal – one of the few mixed men-women combat units – was home for Shabbat. In passing, I mentioned that a photographer friend thought it would be interesting to come down and do a story on the unit.

“Yes, Ma’ariv was here this week talking to Elinor,” she said matter-of-factly, referring to one of the Hebrew tabloid daily papers. “I guess she’s the first Arab girl to join a combat unit.”

“What? You have an Arab girl in your unit?” I squeaked. “And you never told me? That’s a great story.”

“I guess it is – it’s in Ma’ariv today,” she told me, as we went online and saw the huge photo of Elinor Joseph in battle gear and camouflage.

The story described how Joseph, a Christian Arab living outside of Haifa, has excelled in the unit. She labels herself “Arab, Christian and Israeli” in that order, and received special permission from the IDF to take her uniform off and put on civilian clothes before reaching home, in case any of her neighbors don’t share her allegiance to the state.

My daughter said that she’s ‘one of the guys’ and is ‘hamoodi’ (cute), and aside from a slight accent in Hebrew, nobody would ever know that she wasn’t one of the other Jewish Israelis in the unit.

That’s great, I told her, but next time let me know before I read about it in Ma’ariv.

Meeting Mifakedet Mor

December 8, 2009 - 11:44 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Immigrant Moments, Israeliness, Life, War 

One of Mifakedet Mor's new recruits

One of Mifakedet Mor's new recruits

It was a feeling I still recall like it was yesterday – being a fresh 30-year-old IDF recruit and trying to remember how to talk to my 18-year-old commander. It was army jargon full of “Hakshev” (attention!), “Mifaked” (Commander!)” usually shouted out with a gusto that would make a Marine blush.

I thought those days were long gone, until I answered my cell phone last night and talked to Mifakedet Mor. Probably 18 herself, Mor is my daughter’s immediate commander during her basic training. One of the requirements that recruits need to fulfill when they get a home leave for Shabbat is to notify their superior when they have safely arrived at home on Friday.

Because her cell phone stopped function on the first day of the her army service (damn pacifist), my daughter used my phone to call Mifakedet Mor when I picked her up from the Central Bust station in Jerusalem, lugging two knapsacks that were bigger than her. I listened with bemusement as she used all the requiste ‘can mifaked’ (Yes sir!) and the conversation ended with Mifakedet Mor wishing her a “Shabbat Shalom.” Ah, only in the Israeli army, right?

So, on Saturday night, I’m off to work and I get a call on my phone. “Shalom, this is Mifakedet Mor, can I talk to Sarit?”

Now, I knew that this was an 18-year-old women, and that she wasn’t my commanding officer. But my throat went dry, and I managed to stammer in response that this was her father’s cell phone and that she should try our home number. I wasn’t sure whether to end the sentence with ‘mifaked!’. But smartly I didn’t.

I did feel like telling her what a great kid Sarit is and that she should take it easy on her. But smartly, I didn’t do that either. Mifakedet Mor thanked me, wished me a Shavua Tov (good week) and continued down her list of calls to make. I breathed a sigh of relief and tried to forget the basic training flashes that had begun zigzagging through my brain. And Sarit was home getting ready to meet up the next day with the one person that will matter to her more than any other over the next four months – an 18-year-old commander named Mor.


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