After my reading at the Dallas JCC last night, I was approached by a teenager who told me that he, too, plans to join the Israeli Army.
“Are you out of your mind?” I said, only half joking.
He smiled. “Were you?” he asked.
It’s not the first time this kind of thing happened. My book, The 188th Crybaby Brigade, is a brutally honest description of life in the IDF. There aren’t many other books like it, so it seems to be the book of choice among teenagers (and even some in their early twenties) who are seriously considering joining up.
In fact, ever since my book came out last spring, I’ve gotten quite a slew of emails from young Jews, both men and women, who want advice. They ask about induction procedures, the battery of entrance tests, and what kind of paperwork they need to file. But their number one question is: “Do you think I should do it?”
It’s a heavy question. Burdensome. A question with many implications and one I’m not necessarily qualified to answer.
So I always tell him or her the same thing: that I don’t want to be responsible for someone dying on the battlefield (or in training, as the case may be); but, if they feel like they’ll regret it for the rest of their lives if they don’t serve, then they should do it.
“But be sure to check out my book first,” I warn them. “You might change your mind after you read it.”
Check by later this month for most posts from Joel on his NETWORK tour.
Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian who’s performed his unique brand of clean, clever comedy for more than 1,000 Jewish audiences in ten countries. A former IDF lone soldier, Joel is the author of multiple books, including the comedic memoir The 188th Crybaby Brigade and the newly released Israel 201.