Sweet 16 Brings Heavy Responsibilities for Israeli Youths

by | Jan 8, 2015 | Israel & Jewish Roots, Standing With Israel

As a kid, I recall going to friends’ Sweet Sixteen parties, but it’s a distant and vague memory. As common it is to celebrate this milestone in the U.S., in Israel it’s a milestone that’s noted very differently. With my oldest son turning 16 recently, it gave me pause to reflect on this difference.

In the coming year, my son will begin to take driving lessons and likely will be driving with a license before he’s 17. The Israeli system is somewhat different, and he will have to take in the range of 30-40 lessons before even being eligible to take his first road test. I am sure that in Israel, like in the U.S., this is a milestone teens aspire to both because it symbolizes a degree of maturity and independence. Also because once other friends get their licenses, nobody wants to be the one who doesn’t have theirs.

Also this year, my son will receive his teudat zehut—his Israeli identity card; “TZ” for short. While all Israelis receive a TZ number at birth (or immigrating as most of my kids did), the actual identity card is not received until 16. In a way, it’s similar to a social security card/number, but it has less to do with receiving a stipend when one retires and is something that is kept secret so as not to enhance the concern that someone will become victim of identity theft.

In Israel, the TZ number is ubiquitous. Everyone is supposed to carry their physical card with them pretty much at all times. Israelis are asked to produce their TZ card often, sometimes when doing things as simple as entering a controlled environment, to using a credit card to buy groceries.

Israelis are asked his/her TZ number in the most mundane of places that would make Americans bristle with the worry about what the person asking might do with it. It’s almost as common to be asked for your TZ number here as it is to ask someone how they are doing.

It’s a funny juxtaposition from the more laid back Israeli attitude, as compared to the sometimes more formal American attitude, that Israelis throw around their TZ numbers without concern for things that Americans would be concerned about with their social security numbers. It’s also interesting to note that, as various legislative efforts to have Americans carry an ID card (often for voting purposes) is a political hot potato, Israelis are used to carry their TZ cards with them. Indeed, my son looks forward to that.

Perhaps the biggest difference in my son turning 16 as compared to that of his American peers is that later this year he’ll receive his first military call up notice. His three older sisters also received theirs at 16, but because Orthodox Jewish women are exempt from military service (as are many ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, and all Israeli Arabs except the Druze), they did a voluntary, non-military national service instead. So, my son will be the first in our immediate family to do military service, and that milestone, while 2-3 years before he’ll be inducted into the army, is new for us all.

For the record, I did try to get myself conscribed, but as I noted then in an article entitled “At your age?,” the young man half my age couldn’t have been more eager to stamp my documents as exempt, because of my age at the time.

In the coming years, my son will participate in various programs to increase the likelihood that he’ll be drafted to the most elite combat unit possible. He will go through a series of physical and psychological evaluations where the army will expertly rank him, assess his aptitudes, and begin to assign him to the unit that they think will be best. Indeed in our modern Orthodox community, young men like my son strive to get to the most elite units, even trying to hide physical limitations that would limit their chances.

In America, the word “profiling” is a four-letter word. Here, it’s a matter of survival. The army will profile my son as well and, ironically, in the Jewish state it’s virtually impossible for a Jewish man to get a perfect profile because the army takes off points for being circumcised. A score of 97 is the highest possible profile for most Jewish men.

As the army begins to check him out and he begins to evaluate his options, as we as his parents begin to learn a whole new part of Israeli culture, language, norms, etc., I hope to be able to learn about this and be a resource for my son in parallel. I’ve always thought he should go into intelligence because he is very bright and analytical. Also, the idea of my kid being armed and defending us freaks me out a bit. And of course, there’s the worry that in a combat unit he’s much more apt to have to put his life on the line.

I know he’ll be thinking about the same things because this past summer it was clear in the middle of the war that was thrust upon us, he was looking at and thinking about it not just as a concerned citizen, but as a future soldier. I know he looked at the war, as many of us did, with the hope that we would defeat and destroy Hamas and the other terrorist groups operating from Gaza, and end the threats we face (from that direction anyway), once and for all. But I also knew that he looked at the outcome of the war as one that was going to impact him. By not destroying Hamas and having a victory that was complete, I knew that he knew we were just kicking a can down the road, and one day his turn will come to be on the front line.

This is all part of being a 16-year-old Jewish Israeli. He’s not worried about college or SATs yet, and he doesn’t even think of it. First things come first. He’ll get his Israeli ID card, learn to drive and get a license, and then begin the process of taking this maturity and independence with which we and the country entrust him, to spend at least three years defending the state in uniform.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for Charisma magazine’s Standing With Israel. You can contact Jonathan at firstpersonisrael@gmail.com.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 1 Minute 51 Seconds At a recent gathering where a member was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you, TURN and see; embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Read Time: 2 Minutes 25 Seconds If you search the phrase, “where does life come from?” the first explanation reads: “The origin of life is a result of a supernatural event—and readily arises from nonliving matter in short periods of time, today as in the past.” The...

Raise Your Praise!

Raise Your Praise!

These are the days that may leave you feeling defeated. You may be wondering when these present trials will end or how can you strengthen your faith for the battle as you wrestle against powers and principalities that come against you, in addition to the challenges...

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

Read Time: 1 Minute 9 Seconds What will turn the nations around? What will restore the world to sanity? There have been revivals from Old Testament times up through the year 2000. Today we need both a revival and a reformation. Here are 7 elements needed to usher in...

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Read Time: 4 Minutes 55 Seconds Growing up in synagogue, I was taught about the heroes of the Bible: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Samson. When I became a believer in Yeshua, the writings of the New Testament new heroes were added to the...

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 27 Seconds From the very first tent stake we drove into California soil, until now, there has only been one dream. And, after two years, that dream came true in Roseville. Roseville is the victory we have yearned for. It confirms that an era of...

RECENT ARTICLES

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

Read Time: 2 Minutes 23 Seconds In this webinar, Grant Berry discussed the strategy the Lord is releasing for His end-time plans to reform His Ekklesia/church. God is revealing different focuses of...
How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

Read Time: 5 Minutes, 2 Seconds A river is a source of life. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Jesus told His disciples that if we believe in Him, "rivers of living water" will flow out from within us, from our hearts. "Anyone who believes in me may...

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Read Time: 2 Minutes 42 Seconds It’s very interesting how the Holy Spirit will use things that you’re going through to not only prophesy to you, but also to prophesy over the body of Christ. In listening to other people and hearing what’s been coming out of their...

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Pin It on Pinterest