Rachel Gordon of West Orange, an IDF lone soldier, was nominated by her IDF base commander and the commander of aerial defense to receive the President’s award for outstanding service to the soldiers on her base. The nomination was escalated by the commander of the IDF Air Force, and ultimately ratified by the Ramatchal/Chief of Staff. Gordon received the prestigious President’s Award of Excellence, along with 119 other IDF soldiers, during a Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony at the home of President Rivlin in Israel.
Gordon related to The Jewish Link: “I grew up in a community where Zionism and Judaism are core values.”
During her studies at the University of Pittsburgh, she was overwhelmed by the level of influence enjoyed by anti-Israel campus student movements. This experience influenced her to spend a semester of her second year at Hebrew University, ultimately prompting her to enlist in the IDF. She now serves as a social worker/welfare case manager in an anti-aircraft missile unit in the air force. Her job is to ensure that the home lives of her base soldiers are stable, their basic living requirements are met when they go home on leave and that they are able to receive financial aid for their families if needed.
Gordon said she is inspired by the equalizer that is the IDF uniform. The mandatory military duty of 18- to 21-year-olds in Israel brings people of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds into IDF service. “We all do kitchen duty, we all have guard duty in the middle of the night, we all get in trouble for being late or not polishing our shoes. We sweat and cry and laugh together.”
Part of Gordon’s job is providing soldiers and their families with the basic necessities of life. She greatly credits her ability to do this work to organizations like FIDF (Friends of the IDF) and Aguda Le Ma’an Ha Chayal (Association to Benefit the Soldier), and all of the people who donate to them. She said, “With the aid provided, soldiers are able to focus on their important missions, absent the need to worry about whether their little sister or brother has enough to eat, or their mother has a bed on which to sleep.” Bear in mind that IDF service removes from the Israeli economy and each family’s financial profile every young person in the country between the ages of 18-21.
Gordon also notes that the hardest thing for her is being so far away from her own family and home life. She also misses showering without flip-flops…
Gordon is grateful to her family and community for their support of her and for instilling in her a love of Judaism and Israel.
By Ellie Wolf