Ready to Give Their All – and More
The young Israeli women whose pre-army studies at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Jerusalem, Lod and Carmiel branches were interrupted by COVID-19 are thrilled to be back on campus.
“During the lockdown, it was difficult to be away from my friends, who have become like sisters,” says Reut Bar, a student in Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Hadas Program, which combines intense beit midrash studies with full military service in the IDF.
Health guidelines put in place for the re-opening of academic institutions have slightly altered the way in which classes and activities are held, but have done nothing to dampen students’ enthusiasm.
“It was strange to return to a different reality,” Bar admits, “but even with the changes, we’re so happy that we were able to return to what has become our second home.”
Supporting Israel in its Time of Need
At the height of the lockdown, 60 Midreshet Lindenbaum students enlisted in the IDF earlier than planned in order to spend three weeks supporting Israel’s Home Front Command.
“At the beginning, we really didn’t know what to expect, but we had a real sense of morale going in together with our friends and it felt great to be able to do something concrete to help the country,” recalls Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod student, Roni Roth. “We worked at a call center, responding to a range of questions about COVID-19 and providing information on the Health Ministry restrictions. So many people I spoke with ended the conversation by thanking me; I felt like I really did something meaningful.”
Tiferet Fish, a student at the Midreshet Lindenbaum–”Matat” branch in Carmiel, was also a part of the group that enlisted early to support the Home Front. “I first got a call on Friday when we were still in lockdown, and by Sunday I was already on my way to the call center,” she reports. “It felt great to help my country and my people!”
In the coming weeks, Bar, Roth and Fish – along with 120 of their peers – will be inducted into the IDF for a minimum two years of service. “I feel fortunate to have the backing of the Hadas Program as I enter the army,” says Fish, who is headed for a significant role in the Education Corps.
“We have a weekly class with Rav Ohad [Teharlev, Director of Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Israeli programs], in which he prepares us for various issues that may arise during our service,” says Roth, who will also be serving in the IDF’s Educational Corps. “The class is incredibly helpful, and it’s also extremely reassuring to know that I will always have the strong backing of a program to turn to with questions, as well as a network of friends who are going through a similar experience.”
Bar, who has secured a position in the Israeli Air Force, added, “I am so much more relaxed about entering the IDF, knowing that my teachers will always be there for me. I’m already looking forward to the classes Rav Ohad will give us on base.”
Teharlev typically crisscrosses the country every two weeks, visiting each of the 19 bases on which Hadas soldiers serve. During these meetings, the young women have a chance to express their successes and challenges, and “return” to the Midreshet Lindenbaum batei midrash through the classes he gives.
Although he was prevented by COVID-19 restrictions from visiting the bases in person in recent months, Teharlev and other teachers from the three campuses have maintained contact with their soldiers through WhatsApp and Zoom sessions.
A Resource and Foundation of Strength
Fish notes the important role Midreshet Lindenbaum had in her decision to enter the army: “I wanted to strengthen myself religiously before my induction, and I wanted to know that I would have a religious support network to turn to during the course of my service,” she says. “Because I’m going in through the Hadas Program, I will be with a group of friends during my training, and I feel like there is a whole team behind me – friends in a similar situation and teachers I can turn with any question to along the way.”
Roth adds: “Through Hadas, I’ve had a year of spiritual growth and developed a basis for my life before going on to serve in the army. I know that throughout my service, Midreshet Lindenbaum will continue to be my home base, a resources and foundation of strength. And I know that I can always come back for a spiritual re-charge.”