Preparing your children for adulthood (in Israel)

Preparing your children for adulthood is a daunting task.

It’s even more so when those children are Israeli. Had we, (my husband and I) not brought our children to live here in Israel and remained in Britain, we would have been able to guide them through school and the university process.  We’d have been able to help them choose which A’levels to take and thereafter help them choose which universities and courses to apply for. Alternatively, we’d have been able to help them find a job. All of their choices would have been made with our input, should they have wanted it.

Bringing your children to live in Israel and watching them turn into adults here is a whole new ball game. It is one which, sadly, I feel ill equipped to deal with.

The exams which all Israeli children take before leaving school are called bagrut. Those who are successful leave school with a bagrut certificate. These exams are taken during the last 2 years in school, the same as A’levels, however, there the similarity ends. I haven’t even heard of some of the subjects on offer and have therefore been of little use to my children when they have been deciding which subjects to choose.

Almost all school leavers here in Israel are required to join the army, the IDF. It is their duty. Girls can choose to undertake voluntary work in the community instead, although my daughter does not intend to go down that route. Like her brothers, she intends to serve in the army, in one of the combat units no less.

As a parent, I have always felt that it is my duty to support, encourage and guide my children into adulthood. I have realised however, that I simply am not able to do this in my adopted country to the extent that I would have liked or expected. The choices which they face are as much, if not more of an anathema to me as they are to them. Transitioning from school to the army is a daunting prospect. Ideally I would like to be in a position to guide each one of my children through it with helpful advice. The truth, however, is that I know very little about the army and how it works and so all I can do is listen and encourage.

I’ve been wrestling with this conundrum for a few months as my eldest boy is leaving school this summer. He’s on course for a good bagrut score, however what happens after that is somewhat of a mystery to me. He will, of course, serve in the army, although he doesn’t yet know in which unit he’ll serve. The trials, ‘gibushim’, are very tough, but he isn’t daunted by this. He has taken it upon himself to prepare for the tasks which he now faces with gusto and all I can do is look on in awe.

I am, of course, immensely proud of my children. I only hope that their upbringing and the tools which we gave them in their formative years to enable them to survive in the big wide world, will serve them well in the next stage of their lives. I can only watch as they form part of the next generation of young Israelis whose selflessness and courage will ensure that the future of our tiny country, Israel, is bright and secure.

They will form part of the bigger picture which is an honour bestowed upon them by the very fact that they are now Israeli citizens. Above all else, my fervent hope is that they have a safe and fulfilling service and further, that they continue to grow and prosper here in this amazing country.

About the Author
I’m a British lawyer from Manchester. I made aliyah in 2016 and now live in Netanya with my husband, 3 children and 3 dogs. As I wasn’t able to pursue my legal career here in Israel, I started a small business editing English language papers for academics. I also write short stories or ‘blogs’ about the trials and tribulations of my new life.
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