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A JK-12 pluralistic school that engages students in an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education.

Six Members of the Class of 2019 Choose to Serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)


Six members of the CESJDS Class of 2019 will  join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this summer. The IDF,  צה״ל in Hebrew, defends the existence of the State of Israel, its independence, and the security of the citizens and residents of the state. National military service is required for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18. Every year, many recruits from countries around the world commit 2-3 years of their lives to the IDF, and some attain Israeli citizenship at the start or completion of their service. We salute the six CESJDS graduates who will enter the IDF this year.

Omer Balva

Omer sees his future in Israel and, for the love of his Jewish homeland, wants to serve in the IDF alongside his peers. He is looking forward to living in Israel for the first time ever and having members of his family so close by.

He is conscious of the fact that many people are not supportive of the IDF’s mission, and wants to see the conflict first-hand, as opposed to seeing and hearing about it on the news. Omer feels that CESJDS has taught him to keep an open mind and respect others’ opinions, which will be critical as he embarks on this new experience.

Omer has spoken to a number of individuals, including his sister, about serving in the IDF. “They have helped me out a lot, but the most important thing they told me is to stay strong mentally, especially in the presence of new surroundings, and the absence of family and friends.”

He plans on studying in Israel after his service, and has soaked up his last year in the United States given his future aspirations.

Lily Daroff

Lily has always felt a connection to Israel, which was strengthened by her involvement in the Israel Club at CESJDS, where she was a very active member and changemaker. She felt inspired by her interactions with lone soldiers, which further propelled her decision to enlist.

She is looking forward to meeting new people, hearing stories from both Israeli nationals and enlistees from around the world, and diving into her work responsibilities. “These types of opportunities are one of a kind, and I can’t get them anywhere else.”

Lily took both the Modern Israel and Arab-Israeli conflict classes with Aaron Bregman while she was a CESJDS student. She feels that these classes gave her a deeper understanding of Israel, and enabled her to form her own opinions of different issues.

An aspiring filmmaker, Lily deferred an acceptance to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Upon completion of her IDF service, she will move back to the US to pursue her degree.

Hadas Dubrawsky

Hadas knew as a young child that she wanted to join the IDF post-graduation. As she entered high school and built upon relationships with Israeli relatives, she began to feel the necessity and urgency of joining the IDF. “Probably what prompted me the most has been knowing that I will be defending my family and my people.” Hadas’ brother, Isaac ‘15, enlisted after graduation as well, and one of the most invaluable skills he picked up was communal living.

She is looking forward to learning new skills and making new, lifelong friends. While moving to a new country is daunting, she feels encouraged and well-supported by the family and friends she has throughout Israel. She anticipates that the time management skills she learned at CESJDS will help her while she’s in the army, as well as the ability to self-advocate.

Hadas is confident that she wants to raise a family in Israel, but is unsure whether she will stay in the country for college, or if she will return to the US to attend school, and then relocate back to Israel.

Justin Galitzer

Justin grew up in a Zionisitic and passionate household, which instilled him with a deep love for Israel. He remembers visiting Israel from an early age and the feeling he had while looking at IDF soldiers--as Heroes. “After visiting Israel for 2 months this past summer, I discovered the rich history, beauty, innovations, and more the land has to offer,”

He is looking forward to utilizing the Hebrew language skills he acquired during his tenure as a CESJDS student. Justin feels that the School has given him the knowledge to strongly support Israel, and prior to supporting the country on a college campus, he is excited to protect Israel in another way.

Justin has spoken to numerous alumni who have answered his questions and reinforced his reasons to join the IDF. A recurring theme of those comments is to never give up and to remember the reason he is there and is needed.

He is very open-minded about his post-IDF plans and will see where his service takes him. Justin is looking forward to the amazing opportunity and honor to serve in the IDF.

Jonah Gershman

Jonah previously lived in Israel for two years. During his time there, he remembers seeing soldiers wherever he was and he wants to have the opportunity to defend the people who defended him and everyone in the State of Israel.

He thinks the Hebrew that he learned during his tenure at CESJDS will be critical as he embarks on this new journey.

Jonah is unsure of his post-service plans and will see how his experiences unfold prior to making the decision of what to do next.

"I am looking forward to defending a country that I love and making everlasting bonds with my fellow soldiers.”

Eli Winston

Eli’s decision to join the IDF was not sparked by a single discussion but instead by a love of Israel and a wish to serve the Jewish state. “I’m looking forward to being in Israel and serving my new community even though i know that the army itself is going to be grueling.”

He spoke to Daniel Levy ‘16, who emphasized the importance of having a community of people around you. Eli will make Aliyah and plans to stay in Israel after his service.