On Monday, December 30 2013 I finished Tironot (basic training level 02) and swore to uphold the duties of a soldier of the Israel Defense Forces.
This was a moment of awe, of reverence, of trepidation, and it lasted for 5 hours from its beginning to its end.
Our swearing ceremony took place in Akko, the old city, inside a big prison that has been in existence since the time of the Hospitalers in the Holy Land. But that’s not what made this so special. The reason this ceremony took place in that prison is because during the British Mandate (1922-1948), the English used to send any captured Irgun and Etzel militiamen (Jewish underground groups that fought for the Independence of Israel from the British) to this prison. It was a very harsh prison, and in 1948 the hope of the people that were in that prison came into existence: The State of the Jewish People.
This cycle of despair, persecution, and undying hope did not escape me as I stood in formation shouting the sacred oath (in Hebrew) for the world to hear:
“I swear, and commit to maintain loyalty to the State of Israel, to her laws and authorities.
To take upon myself without conditions and without reservations the responsibilities of the IDF.
To obey all the commands and instructions given by the commanders and to dedicate all my strength
AND even to sacrifice my life for the defense of the homeland and the freedom of Israel.”
And at the call of our Mem Mem (Lieutenant) we collectively sealed what we just individually said, together, with a loud roar “I Swear!”
One company after another sealed their oath after us.
Then we each individually stood in front of our Mem Mem, and accepted a gun in our right arm and a Tanach in our left hand that we positioned over our gun.
In our right hand we held the weapon of the world that is used for its unthinkable and undesirable destruction. In our left hand, was our contribution to civilization, the light of the Jewish people, and the core of our very foundation in the world.
With the Tanach held over the rifle, I swore again to the top of my lungs despite the fact that the Mem Mem was standing but one foot from me, “I swear!” Then the Mem Mem saluted me, and wished me success.
That was it. Off I ran back into formation, a soldier of the Israel Defense Forces. Defender of Jerusalem, and a nightmare to those seeking to harm the Jewish people.