On Tuesday, September 13th, Israel Defense Force (IDF) First Lt. Eden Adler visited Bi-Cultural Day School, sharing his experiences as an Israeli military officer and discussing his involvement with a movie detailing a soldier’s life.
Bi-Cultural middle-school students viewed the full-feature length documentary film, Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front in early September, integrating the screening of the movie with a discussion of current issues in Israel and a conversation about facing personal challenges and responsibility. The 2014 film is a coming-of-age story which follows the journey of five Israeli high school graduates as they are drafted into the IDF to defend their country, presenting unique understanding into the demanding and oftentimes difficult life of an Israeli soldier.
Currently a political science major at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Adler, 24, originally from the Western Galilee town of Kfar Vradim, served as a commander in the 101st Paratrooper Brigade basic training base and was responsible for 42 recruits and three sergeants during his time of service. Adler introduced his talk with a discussion of the concept of achrayut, a Hebrew word which encompasses not just personal responsibility, but also obligation and accountability for others.
Providing insight into the daily exhaustive training regime and challenging duty assignments, including his involvement with the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Adler weaved stories of his military experience with universal lessons of personal growth and determination. “The monsters in our head that tell us that we can’t do something are obstacles that we alone create—it’s up to us to face those challenges directly so that we can achieve our goals,” said Adler.
Adler also described the larger issues and questions that members of the IDF face on a daily basis and his role in helping to foster teamwork and collaboration to create a cohesive group. “Each day as a soldier, we ask ourselves, ‘Why are we here and what is our overall purpose?’ Every day, each of us had the same answer: We are here defending Israel not just for the people who live in Israel, but we are ultimately protecting the Jewish people who live all over the world.”
Adler provided time for questions following his presentation with the middle-school audience, who asked Adler questions ranging from the typical training regime, to food in the Army to IDF to Adler’s most difficult moment during his tour of duty to his experience being a subject of a movie. “The movie, Beneath the Helmet was about five different people’s stories, but in the end, it is all our story. We are here to learn about Judaism and Israel and the more knowledge you have, the more powerful you are.”