Thursday, March 4, 2010
An Israeli cadet greets her mother outside of Bahad Ehad military base before the graduation ceremony. Graduating from an officer’s training course is often more appreciated than finishing high school.
A soldier converses with a friend from her guard post on the second floor of army base Bahad Ehad.
750 cadets stand at attention during a graduation ceremony at the Bahad Ehad military base. Soldiers trained for three months to complete a preliminary officer’s course before graduating to another base where they will train in their specialized field.
Soldiers prepare for the graduation ceremony. They are disciplined to always look their best when not in combat uniform.
An Israeli soldier climbs the steps to the on base synagog an hour before the graduation ceremony.
An Israeli army soldier sits along the walls of the base prior to the ceremony.
Straight out of high school, American teenagers receive a diploma. Israelis receive a gun. To Israeli citizens, enlistment is not a matter of choice; it is a facet of their culture known since birth. The army is as familiar to them as college is to high school graduates.
On Jan. 20, hundreds of Israeli soldiers anxiously wait to march onto the ceremonial grounds of Bahad Ehad, a military base dedicated to training officers. The afternoon graduation is the culmination of three months of grueling training meant to prepare soldiers for positions of leadership.
Soldiers are ecstatic because they did not have to run today. Before the ceremony, one Navy cadet helps a friend straighten the collar of his wrinkled uniform. Another soldier fixes her boyfriend’s beret. A group of religious soldiers dance and chant in celebration.
Regardless of cultural and regional conflicts, the narrative of the Israeli army is a coming-of-age story similar to the American college experience.
Before a crowd of thousands, the soldiers stand proudly at attention, their lives forever shaped by the discipline, moral code and camaraderie they will carry into their future.
- Tamir Kalifa