welcome, Dorit Sasson!
Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, author Dorit Sasson. Dorit's memoir, Author of Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, is concurrently on tour with a number of guest posts. Therefore, I feel fortunate to have her visit during this extra busy timer. Dorit brings a message of what we as Americans can learn from Israel and the IDF. Perhaps this sounds like a rather sobering topic but Dorit presents her story in such a way that we each may find hope and a way to make a difference.
Please join me now in welcoming Dorit. *Applause here.* And don't forget the giveaway later.
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What Americans Can Learn from Israel and the Israel Defense Forces
There are so many things I learned as an American immigrant serving in the Israel Defense Forces that I write about in Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, but if I had to take a step back and look at what Americans can learn from Israel and the IDF, I'd have to narrow down my answer to three main areas:
Israel is a country surrounded by four Arab nations that want to annihilate Israel at every opportunity. Then there's the constant threat by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) who send out terrorists that blow up buses. Before Israel became a state in 1948, it was once Palestine and so Palestinians who live in Israel believe that it is their country. Many of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and the occupied territories are a constant threat to the Jewish settlements. My newsfeed on Facebook has been filled with stabbings and killings that make me feel helpless, sad and angry.
Put these things together and you get a lot of tension that Israel experiences every single minute of the day. These are things we as Americans don't quite understand. Our survival as a country doesn't work in the same way. Imagine the state of Ohio wanting to blow up the state of Pennsylvania? There are security guards on buses, public places like malls and restaurants and in many schools. And with all the killings, bombings and stabbing, Israel is probably one of the safest countries in the world because of the top notch security. As a new immigrant serving in the IDF, I felt that the country has my back more than America and I often talk about this in my memoir. It is no wonder that the Israel Defense Forces is one of the most famous armies if not the most famous in the world.
Relationships and Mentality
Politics and the daily tension of the country also affect the way Israelis interact on many levels. There’s very little formality in relationships. Parents don't plan "playdates" weeks or days in advance. You never need an appointment to see a friend. Relationships are real, direct and people are responsive emotionally. These relationships are essential to survival. People need each other. You never feel alone like you do in America. You can die alone without a soul in the world here in the US. It's unlikely that kind of thing would happen in Israel.
On the other hand, it can be tough dealing with so much chutzpah. When I taught High School Israelis, I had to find a way to teach English without being the disciplinarian. It's a tough, fine balance.
It's a country grounded in tradition. There are two days out of the year when the entire country stands for a two and three minute siren - namely, Yom Hashoa or Holocaust Remembrance Day and Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. Yes, even cars stop on major highways and intersections. It's something unheard of in America. You feel a complete and utter respect for history and people who give so much to protect the country. Everyone in Israel has a friend, relative or family member who served in the army so the relationship between civilian and soldier is very close. Americans do not know much about the US army and the veterans who have put themselves on the line for our country. There are many Israelis who will adopt lone IDF soldiers who do not have family in Israel as was my experience.
Yes, Israelis are gutsy, aggressive and assertive. I've often been asked how much I make as an English teacher and other personal subjects that Americans wouldn't dare ask another. There's no such thing that staying anonymous or quiet. You'll soon find yourself bad mouthing politics and developing an opinion over all the governmental strikes. That's just the nature of the country.
However, when the country is under the threat of a war, the country comes together in ways you simply cannot possibly imagine from just listening to CNN. Israel is a small country, the size of Rhode Island and people are a lot more socially wired with each other. When my home was under threat during the second Israel-Lebanese War, strangers all over the country opened their doors to my family. I wrote about that experience here.
Living and the Concept of Time
On many Jewish holidays, the entire country shuts down - sometimes for days like on the Jewish holiday of Passover. There is no government service or banks. You feel the entire country celebrating with you and it's a very big deal. Buses don't operate from sundown on a Friday night till sundown on a Saturday when the Sabbath or Shabbat is over. These precious moments are a time for people to get together with family and eat many different kinds of cultural foods depending on their tradition. Work is work, and time off is time off.
Just writing this post, I am now getting homesick for spending those Jewish holidays with family and just letting my hair down. It's a big part of who I am and have become.
Because Israelis live under so much threat and tension, they know how to live. They live for the present moment. They don't sacrifice an opportunity to live life. It's evident in the relationships, culture and talk - it's hard to describe this kind of sensation to an American. It's just one of those things that need to be experienced.
As a returning American who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2007, I miss so many parts of Israel - the contrasts, the complexities, the caring relationships, the ability to just let my hair down with people and interact with them without wondering if they'll judge me and how they'll react, the Jewish holidays, and of course my family. As an American who continues to find my cultural place in Pittsburgh, I won't forget my roots and where I've come from.
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Thank you, Dorit, for making time to share a part of your story with us today. Having you visit here was an absolute pleasure.
A Look at the Book
At age nineteen, Dorit Sasson, a dual American-Israeli citizen, was trying to make the status quo work as a college student―until she realized that if she didn’t distance herself from her neurotic, worrywart of a mother, she would become just like her.
Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces is Sasson’s story of how she dropped out of college and volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces in an effort to change her life―and how, in stepping out of her comfort zone and into a war zone, she discovered courage and faith she didn’t know she was capable of.
Paperback: 337 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (June 14, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1631520350; ISBN-13: 978-1631520358
Amazon Link: click here
Meet the Author
Dorit Sasson writes for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Huffington Post and The Writer, and speaks at conferences, libraries, and community centers. She is the author of the a featured chapter in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time, the latest installment of that best-selling series, and. She is the host of the global radio show "Giving Voice to Your Courageous Story." She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.
Connect with Dorit online:
Website: www.DoritSasson.com, www.GivingaVoicetotheVoicelessbook.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoritSassonauthorAccidentalSoldier/
To check out other stops on Dorit's blog tour, click here.
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Now for the giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway ∗ ∗ ∗
Now, it's your turn! Ask Dorit questions about her book, the writing and publishing process, her experience in Israel and the IDF. Go ahead. Don't by shy. There's plenty of space below.