newsIsrael at War

‘I achieved my dream of wearing an IDF uniform’

Eli Yosef serves in the Artillery Corps after having left the ultra-Orthodox world at 18.

Eli Yosef. Photo: Courtesy.
Eli Yosef. Photo: Courtesy.

Eli Yosef, 20, serves in the Israel Defense Forces Artillery Corps, in a unit dealing with computerized firing systems.

Yosef was born and raised ultra-Orthodox in Modi’in Illit, a city often called Kiryat Sefer, the name of its first neighborhood. At age 15, he decided to leave the haredi community and look for another way of life that suited him more.

“After a year in yeshivah, I realized that this path was not the right one for me,” he says. “I left the yeshivah and I started wandering between different institutions and many types of jobs. To make a long story short, I left my home in Modi’in Illit when I was 18 and rented an apartment in Ramat Gan.

“Since I left home, I have not been in contact with my family.”

Yosef realized that by serving in the IDF he could build a stable life for himself while giving back to his country. He submitted a request to cancel the army deferment that he had been granted as a student in yeshivah. “I achieved my dream of putting on a uniform,” he recalls.

“I was assigned to the Golani Brigade initially, and then I encountered The Lone Soldier Center—In Memory of Michael Levin NGO. They told me that they help soldiers like me, and they really helped me with everything I needed.

(Lone soldiers are those without close family in Israel who can help them.)

“They recommended that I go to a pre-military preparatory program so that I could prepare myself for my service. At first, I didn’t want to, but then I realized that the year I would spend studying there would be worth the time. I postponed my enlistment for a year and the Lone Soldier Center arranged an apartment for me in Jerusalem with a few other lone soldiers.

“During my year in the pre-military preparatory program, I concluded that I wanted a slightly different path for my military service. After considering several directions, I enlisted a year ago and ended up in the Artillery Corps.”

Yosef does not regret for a moment the decision to enlist and says that his service has contributed a lot to him: “The army has given me peace of mind for several years, in which I don’t have to worry about rent and food and what will happen if I don’t have enough money.

“It also has provided me with a social framework, I have met a lot of different people and it has given me ideas for professional development for my life post-military. The entire concept of computing is something I hadn’t been exposed to before. It’s definitely possible that it will be a direction I’ll continue for the rest of my life.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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