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Jerusalem U Blog

Eden Adler

My name is Eden Adler. I joined the Israeli army in 2010 and after 4 years of service, am now a Lt. (res) officer in the IDF's elite paratrooper brigade. I am from Kfar Vradim in the north of Israel. I began being filmed for Beneath the Helmet in 2013. Thanks to the movie, I understand the need for strengthening Jewish identity and Israel activism abroad.
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Mekonen’s Story: The Global Dream to Belong

Jerusalem U is about to release a mini-documentary about the journey of IDF Lt. Mekonen Abebe. This film picks up on the story of one of the soldiers that we first met in the highly acclaimed documentary Beneath the Helmet during which Mekonen was a trainee soldier in the IDF's parachute regiment, under my command.

Mekonen: The Story of an Ethiopian Jew, presents both his history before joining the army  as well as his process of becoming an IDF officer himself and I am really happy that Jerusalem U has made this film, and that I was able to be part of it, because I feel that Mekonen’s story is an important story to share.

It’s not just the personal account of a remarkable individual, it is also the collective account of an entire community, the story Ethiopian Jewry.

Mekonen's story is perhaps bigger than even than that of his community or of Israel - it is  a univerals story, one that applies to any country grappling with the challenges of absorbing immigrants. It describes the process a person goes through to  integrate into a new society, while still remaining true to his or her roots.

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US vs. Israeli Campus Life

Hey guys, how ya been?

School is still great, and still challenging.  I’ve also noticed some interesting differences between university in Israel and The States.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting multiple campuses in North America, and am now able to compare them with campus life in Israel. The biggest difference I see is in the student attitudes: in Israel, it’s all about studying.

Most people show up, learn what they need to, and leave.

There is less of an emphasis on the social dynamic. A marked absence of the sororities, fraternities, and clubs that are a core part of college life in the States. Part of the reason for this, I believe, lies in the fact that students here are more mature. The average age of most students is 24 or 25, and by this point most of them have completed the army, and many have taken extensive trips around the world.

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Starting School

Hey guys, I’ve been away for a while – things have been hectic.

I got back from a tour of Canada a month ago, and started university two days later.

First off, the tour. I visited 12 different universities in three weeks, averaging about two events every day. I was also in the states for the Succot holiday, and it seemed like the entire month was either a holiday or Shabbat.

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Return to The IDF: My Experience As A Reserve Officer, & Meeting My Men...and They're All Older Than Me ! 

I finished my first stint in the IDF reserves about a week ago.   It was good to be back in uniform, serving my country again.   Israel relies on a large force of reserve soldiers to augment our standing army - after our three mandatory years of army service, Israeli citizens can be called up at any time for training and at time of war of course.

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Reflections on Reserve Duty

I’m attending my first reserve duty call-up this week.

Most Israelis who complete their army service return to the military for three to four weeks a year to maintain their combat readiness and to supplement the IDF’s defensive presence throughout Israel.

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A Year Since Gaza (pt.2) - Remembering Friends Lost

This time a year ago, I was fighting alongside my soldiers in Operation Protective Edge. 

This time a year ago, I lost my commander and my two friends Yuval and Nadav.

The first weekend after the war ended I was sent home on leave. I hadn’t been home for over two months. Anyone who knows Israeli soldiers knows that going home for Shabbat is what keeps us going.

The worst punishment that you can give a soldier is to keep them in for Shabbat but this Shabbat was the first time that I would have rather stayed on base. I wanted to be with the people who had gone through what I just experienced—people who understood.

I got home and showered. Then I ate my first home-cooked meal in a month. Afterward, while sitting in my 

room, it hit me. My commander and my friends would never be eatingFriday night with their families again. They’ll never get discharged from the army, get a new job or get married.

I broke down. Out of nowhere, the walls fell and everything came pouring out. I cried for a long time.

Then came the second-guessing - the "survivor guilt". Could I have done something to help? Could I have done something to save them—something to help them be here today?

I couldn’t sleep. I played and replayed it in my head. Things like my last conversation with my commander, when he told me to get a haircut. I was incredulous. A haircut in the middle of a war? But he explained himself, (and these are the last words he would ever say to me):

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A Year Since Gaza

It's been a year since I fought in operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Things have changed a lot for me since then for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest one is because I lost several friends and my commander during the fighting. 

During the months right after the war, I was an active duty soldier. I didn't have time to think about anything because I was too busy with the responsibilities of being a commander.

But as a civilian, things are different. Now I have time to think. Thoughts and memories come to me all the time. Not a day goes by that I don't look back and remember.

It hits me at different times, when I’m having a beer, eating an ice cream or walking down the street. What would my friends be doing if they were alive? What would my commander say if he saw me now?

I remember the day my commander, Dolev Keidar, and my friends, Yoav and Nadav, died. It all seemed surreal. The fact that they were dead didn’t really penetrate, even though I saw their bodies and saw the TV coverage and the pictures.

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My Personal Experience With Campus Anti-Semitism... in Israel

 Since coming back from my speaking tour in the United States, I’ve spent my time speaking at programs here in Israel. I showed Beneath the Helmet to many year-abroad programs in the Technion, Hebrew University, IDC and Bar Ilan, among others.

Overall, it was a positive experience. The students were very interested in the movie and gave positive feedback. They wanted to understand my personal story and how serving as a combat soldier and grappling with complex issues here affects my life.

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Ethiopian Immigrant Becomes IDF Officer: What We Can All Learn From Mekonen

Mekonen graduates from officer’s school this week.

For those of you who know his story, this is truly amazing. Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia with his family when he was 12 years old, and his father died hours before they boarded the plane.

He spoke only broken Hebrew when he enlisted, and during his basic training he nearly dropped out of the army because of financial difficulties he and his family were experiencing. As documented in Beneath the Helmet, we were able to raise the funds to help him pay back his debts and stay in the army.

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How 60 Former IDF Soldiers Discovered Jewish Unity

(Group picture of the male soldiers)

I just got back from a one week trip to the United States. I learned a lot, enjoyed it a ton, and really grew from the experience.

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