A delegation of 17 female Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters from New England took part in a women’s mission to Israel this summer. It was highlighted by private briefings from IDF generals and government officials, inspiring behind-the-scenes visits with soldiers at six different IDF bases and an immersive boot camp experience.
The 8-day mission began on July 20 and included a full slate of activities. Led by Mission Chair and New England FIDF Board Chair Sharon Mishkin, participants navigated military life alongside IDF soldiers at multiple bases, received a private briefing from the gender advisor to the IDF’s Chief of Defense at the Kirya, and witnessed the transformative work being done for at-risk youth and soldiers with disabilities at the IDF’s Education Corps.
The journey also offered insights from speakers such as a distinguished former major general, a past Mossad agent, a preeminent geopolitical scholar, an Israeli diplomat, a world-renowned expert on resilience, and numerous IDF commanders and officers.
“It was important to show the participants of this mission the true character of this army. The ethical guidelines that the IDF follows are vital for Israel,” said Sharon Mishkin. “These soldiers are the same people who are part of society after service – the doctors, teachers, lawyers, bus drivers. It’s essential that they serve with the utmost morality so they can return to live with others – and with themselves – in healthy, benevolent communities. We are grateful that FIDF gave us this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
While the women enjoyed Jeep rides in the Golan, a spiritual Shabbat in Jerusalem and fun nights out in Tel Aviv, the most meaningful moments were those spent with the IDF soldiers, for whom they developed an even deeper appreciation and admiration while listening to their personal stories. The group also had an amazing opportunity to “walk in their boots” during a grueling 4½ hour bootcamp, where they got a taste of the physical fortitude and mental strength these young men and women must possess during their service.
“No doubt, the bootcamp instilled a sense of pride in each of us – we recognized our own abilities and maybe conquered a few fears – but we were humbled by seeing, first-hand, the impact FIDF is making through programs in education, financial relief and Lone Soldier support,” said Luba Loewenberg, executive director, FIDF New England. “We’re returning as a strong, collective force, eager to continue this important work together. It’s exciting to see where we’ll take it from here.”