Members of U.S. and Israeli Military Speak to Hebrew Class
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Two US Army sergeants, Matthew T. Kershner and Jason T. Riddle, and a member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who shall remain nameless for security purposes, spoke to the Hebrew 6/7 class on Nov 30.
The soldiers discussed their individual experiences in the army and the relationship between the allied forces. Hebrew teacher Irit Slain coordinated the event.
“It was a great learning experience…. [I learned about] the differences between the two armies and how they can work together,” senior Elon Bortz said.
The unidentified IDF soldier is a graduate of BHS and of The Ohio State University. The soldier made aliyah (moved to Israel) through an organization called Nefesh b’ Nefesh (soul to soul) and began army service soon after.
He noted that he was inspired to join the IDF years ago on a Birthright trip, unaware of where that would take him. He felt that the ultimate way to give back to Israel and express his strong sense of Zionism was through active duty.
While no students showed great interest in joining either army, this experience opened up many doors to potential future opportunities. Especially for senior Asaf Roth, whose mother was born in Israel.
“I broadened my perspective on what it means to be a soldier in the IDF, and I learned how hard it is to be one,” he said.
Kershner, now in his thirteenth year of service, works at the US Army recruiting center on Mayfield Road. Kershner discussed his deployments to Iraq, noting the evolving religious tension, societal modernization and social advancement there.
Riddle, who is also a permanent recruiter and former active member of the US Army, is in his fourteenth year of army service. He served in Egypt for a month, in addition to Kuwait.
Both Kersner and Riddle decided to pursue a career in the army for the generous benefits and salary, as well as a way to express their patriotism.
While it was certainly meaningful to hear from US Army soldiers, learning about the experiences of a BHS graduate currently in the IDF definitely hit home for most students.
All three soldiers spoke proudly of America’s relationship with Israel. Both Riddle and the IDF soldier noted that though there was rarely direct interaction between Israeli and American soldiers, it is known that the two nations share a strong bond.
“It was interesting to hear the different experiences that the American soldiers had to endure as opposed to that of the Israeli Army,” Slain remarked. “The students were engaged and asked very good questions.”