The Difference Between Soldiers, Jewish Soldiers
By JULIE BLOOM
for three days they would be
meeting in small discussion groups
It was Yom Kippur, 1982, at the
examine their own kishkes and to
height of Israel's Lebanon War, and
about Jewish law and Jewish
a very difficult time for loyal,
idealistic, peace-loving American
What could Jewish thought
Jewish Zionists like myself. Many of
to do with preparation for
us felt that our Zionist ideals had
service? They couldn't think
come to a crossroads.
of two more unrelated topics if they
It seems clear that although
Israel was for the first time fighting
For that matter, they didn't see
a war that could not be clearly
this Jewish stuff had to do
defined as "defensive," and that the
with them anyway. They went to
soul of the country and of its
synagogue to satisfy grandparents,
legendary humane army seemed to
Bible in school because
be on the line, the hope had not
they had to, and fasted on Yom
been lost. I felt a strong need to
Kippur to remember the war in 1973.
jump in and do whatever I could to
just didn't seem to them
help preserve the Jewish values of
in their lives — it was
the Jewish state, which seemed to
their history, but did not belong to
me to be the most essential
them in the "here and now."
ingredient for Israel's true survival.
"So how many of you are
So, at the age of 22, I was
to fight and maybe even die
ready to make aliyah, fully expecting
for the sake of this Jewish State
that it would be difficult to find the
that is really just a piece of
right vehicle through which to work
history?" I asked.
toward my self-defined mission.
They all raised their hands.
I was nearly beside myself with
"I don't understand," I said. "If
joy when I discovered that a
doesn't mean anything,
move to America where
educational program in Jerusalem
more money, have
was looking for experienced young
wall-to-wall carpeting in your house,
people to work with pre-army Israeli
get tickets to see Michael Jackson
high school students on Jewish
live-in-concert and not worry about
identity and values clarification.
dying for your country?"
I told Avram Infeld, the director
"No, you don't understand,"
of the Institute for Jewish Zionist
they told me, laughing nervously.
Education, that I felt validated, that
"Well, tell me this," I said, "Is
his mission was my mission, that he
there any difference in your minds
could not have found anyone more
between the Israeli army and, say,
fitting for the job, and that I was
the Syrian army for example?"
ready to roll up my sleeves and get
A flurry of reponses filled the
room. The gist of what I was
The Institute for Jewish Zionist
hearing from these young men was
Education was created to help raise
that I had asked a foolish question,
the consciousness of Israelis
that of course Israeli soldiers were
regarding the Jewishness of the
Jewish State. A group of Israeli high smarter, more dedicated, better-
skilled, better-trained, better-fed,
school seniors had sent a letter to
more brave, more humane .. .
the Minister of Education just before
"Aha, I said. "Stop right there.
the 1973 Yom Kippur War, explaining
What do you mean 'more
that their education had not helped
them to understand what they would
Out came the terrible stories of
be fighting for when they went into
of Israeli POW's at the
the army — what were the ideals
hands of the Syrians, horrified
and beliefs behind the need for
survival? What was so special about parents receiving the ear, the finger,
or other of their sons' body parts in
the Jews that they needed to
mail — even President Assad's
massacre of his own people.
Then Education Minister
"The Israeli army would never
Yitzhak Navon was shocked that
do that," they told me excitedly.
bright young people who had been
"And this makes you proud?" I
raised in the Jewish state could ask
such fundamental questions, and he
"Very proud," they told me. And
knew that something had to be
that I had been right all
done, so the institute was formed.
along, and that these young men
My first seminar was with the
would not only be successful
senior class from a boys' vocational
additions to the Israeli military, but
school in the Tel-Aviv/Holon area.
would be good Jewish soldiers,
They thought they had come to the
too. For they had admitted that they
seminar to hear lectures from army
recruiters, and courageous stories of expected their army to be different
from that of their enemies.
battle from war heroes. They were
The next step was to explain
stunned when they found out that
that this ethic did not just spring up
out of nowhere, and that it was
deeply rooted in Jewish tradition.
We learned that Jewish soldiers
are forbidden from destroying fruit
trees encountered in battle, and that
mosques and churches are holy
sanctuaries that cannot be attacked.
We learned that looting and rape
were not permitted — not in ancient
times, and not in modern Israel.
Most important, we discussed
the concept of following orders, and
what that means in a Jewish army.
Did they know, for example, that in
the Jewish army, it is illegal to
follow an order that one knows is
By the end of the second day
of our seminars, the students would
begin to understand just what was
so special and important about the
survival of such a people, with such
On the last day of our
seminars, we would take the
students into the city of Jerusalem
for a brief tour and some free time.
The climax of the tour was in the
old border neighborhood of Abu Tor,
where we would stand, overlooking
the old city of Jerusalem.
"Where do you see Islam?" I
"Dome of the Rock," they
would say, and "the Al Aksa
"Good," I would say, "and
where do you see Christianity?"
Each would point to a different
church tower in the afternoon
"Good. Now tell me, where do
you see Judaism?"
"The Wall is down in there
somewhere," someone would finally
say, "even though you can't really
see it from here."
"Yes," I would say, "but even
more importantly, the Jewishness of
this skyline is in the fact that the
mosques and churches are
standing, thriving, and co-existing.
We have not destroyed them. 'Our
ways are ways of peace' "
Julie Bloom is a student in the
Project Star Program at the
University of Michigan — Project
Star trains Jewish Communal
Low Fat Blintz Souffle
Tasty Shavuot Treat
By LESLYE MICHLIN BORDEN
Of all the stories written in the
Bible, none is more dramatic than
that of Shavuot, the celebration of
the receiving of the Ten
Commandments and the Torah. This
year it begins on the evening of
homemakers prepare dairy dishes
for Shavuot. For people trying to
limit their consumption of foods high
in saturated fat, dairy dishes are
often avoided. You can celebrate
Shavuot in a most traditional way,
with lots of white, "creamy" foods,
and keep to a low-fat, low-
Blintzes come out just as
delicious if you use egg substitute
instead of whole eggs in the
pancake batter and in the filling.
Another way to reduce fat in this
dish is to make the filling with non-
fat cottage cheese instead of farmer
Another fat and calorie saving
suggestion is to bake the blintzes
instead of frying them.
Making blintzes is time-
consuming. If you're a plan ahead
person, consider serving a blintz
casserole. On a day when you're
not busy, prepare the blintzes.
Freeze them, covered tightly, in a
9x13 baking dish. The evening prior
to Shavuot, remove them from the
freezer. Cover them with a delicious
mixture of non-fat milk, egg
substitute, and Parmesan cheese.
Place the casserole in the
refrigerator. An hour or so before
you want to serve them, pop them
in the oven. No one will believe this
rich and beautiful dish has so little
fat or cholesterol.
The Cheese Filling:
24 ounces no-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 egg white
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the ingredients in a
medium bowl. If the mixture doesn't
seem smooth enough, mix it in the
food processor or blender with a
little non-fat milk, added a drop at a
time, until it is smooth. Enough
filling for 17-18 blintzes.
Fill each blintz skin with about
2 tablespoons of filling. (Do not
overfill). Fold the skin over the
filling, then fold in the sides, then
fold the remaining flap over, to keep
the filling inside the packet. Proceed
with souffle recipe. Makes 17
Leslye Michlin Borden is a former
Detroit resident who specializes in
low cholesterol kosher cooking.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS