When a Jew gets up, leaves his home and moves to Israel it is called “making aliyah.” Adam Harmon made aliyah, arriving in Israel after graduating from university and set about fulfilling his dream. Adam wanted to contribute to the Jewish State by joining the Israeli Defense Forces.
Every 18 year old in Israel is drafted into the army, but only a select few are chosen for elite units. Adam, the outsider, was selected to become a paratrooper, one of Israel’s elite soldiers.
Already a US college graduate, Adam was considerably older than the rest of his unit and, more importantly, he spoke no Hebrew. Being older than the average recruit, Adam could have shortened his army stint. He chose not to. Unable to speak Hebrew, he could have been sent to learn the language. He chose to stay with his unit.
The author’s descriptions are deeply emotional, funny and scary at the same time. His desire and commitment to help out his platoon were powerful. His lack of Hebrew begs the question of how much he might have jeopardized the team he so wanted to become a part of. When his team participates in a live exercise, for example, Adam mans a mortar, giving his fellow soldiers cover. His commanding officer repeatedly shouts “stop” — in Hebrew, and Adam does not understand the order. He has never heard this word for “stop” before. While on guard duty the radio goes off and Adam cannot understand the message. The implications are frightening.
In the case of Adam Harmon, all’s well that end’s well. And for that, we are thankful.