SPECIAL FOR THE AJT

In December 2013, the Southeast Region of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) hosted the “Legends and Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Operation Entebbe” event. 2nd Lieutenant Shelly M, a reconnaissance combat officer in the IDF Combat Intelligence Corps, and recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence, spoke at the event. She wrote the following about her unforgettable time in Atlanta:

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“This trip was my first to the United States and my first experience with the American Jewish community, and I didn’t know what to expect. From the moment of my arrival, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the warmth with which I was welcomed by the Atlanta community, the generosity and hospitality they showed me, and the kindness and dedication of the many members of the community I had the pleasure of meeting during my visit. It is one thing to be recognized for one’s achievements and contributions as a soldier by the IDF itself, and quite another to be honored by the Jewish community in the United States.”

As a female combat soldier, and particularly as an officer, Shelly M. has been motivated throughout her career by the desire to prove herself as an equal to her male comrades and demonstrate what women are capable of achieving in combat roles.

A 2nd Lieutenant, reconnaissance combat officer in the Combat Intelligence Corps., she was the only female soldier, among 20 men, in her professional training unit and completed the training with honors.

Her achievement marked the first time in the history of the IDF that a female soldier received this award in a combat intelligence course. 2nd Lt. Shelly M. was also the recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence – presented to her by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres.

Shelly explains:

“It meant a great deal to me
to be singled out for an invitation to share my experiences with the Atlanta community of the FIDF, and the community’s interest in my story was incredibly gratifying.

Conditions in the field are often difficult, and when exhaustion creeps up on you during the 30th hour of an ambush, or the sun beats down and it’s nearly too hot to breathe, it helps to remember that, as isolated as it seems in the field with nothing but desert around, there are countless people there with you in spirit.

Not just your family and friends who know you and are thinking of you specifically, and not just the Israelis who appreciate the soldiers protecting their borders, but also American Jews thousands of miles away, who, despite their geographic removal from the conflict, nevertheless hold the IDF and its soldiers in their hearts, and give so generously of their time, resources, and energy to support us in so many ways.

Above and beyond the material assistance that the FIDF offers, knowing that there are people so far away who care so much for my soldiers and I is a great source of strength, and having the opportunity to meet some of these extraordinarily passionate and committed individuals and share my story with them has been an experience I will never forget.”

The FIDF Southeast Region will be hosting its Annual Gala on May 15, 2014 at the Georgia Aquarium. Over 450 supporters from the community will be in attendance to show their love and support for Israel’s soldiers.

2nd Lieutenant Shelly’s unit, the Combat Intelligence Corps, has been adopted by the FIDF Southeast Region as part of the FIDF Adopt-a- Brigade Program, through which the community provides for the educational and wellbeing needs of the unit’s soldiers.

Please note for security reasons Shelly’s last name is omitted.

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