web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Lone Soldiers: Valley Girl Turned IAF Dog Handler

Natalie and Fedor. "You can hide anywhere you want and he'll find you," she says.

Natalie and Fedor. "You can hide anywhere you want and he'll find you," she says.
Photo Credit: IAF Spokesperson

Natalie says she’s been a dog lover from birth. “I had two dogs when I was younger,” she recalls, “then they mated and we ended up with six more, and we couldn’t give them away…”

She was talking to the Jewish Press while walking her current dog, Fedor, 2.5, who is just this side of a puppy. “Every little thing he sees, he goes crazy,” she says.

The Air Force needs dogs because its bases are a highly desirable target for a terrorist attack, as well as for simple robbers. Fedor, a Belgian Shepherd (Malinois), is a search and attack dog.

“You can hide anywhere you want and he’ll find you,” she says, laughing. “That’s as simple as that is.”

Natalie says she sometimes hangs a leaf in front of Fedor’s face and he stares at it until she removes it. “If I move it, it won’t leave his sight, and if I throw it, there’s no way he won’t get to it. There’ll be a million leaves on the floor and he’ll find that one.”

He’s also “such a lovie dovie,” she says, and hugs him.

A native of the San Fernando Valley, Natalie came to Israel in the eleventh grade, “because my sister decided to join the Army.” Both sisters, in turn, came over as part of Gar’in Tzabar, a group of Diaspora youths, including children of Israelis, who choose to move to Israel and serve in the IDF. Often they are adopted by members of the Israel Scouts youth movement for the duration of their Army service.

“When my sister told me she was joining the Army, I immediately had a heart attack,” she says. “And when she said I should serve in the Army, too, I told her, You don’t understand, I’m not a fighter, I’m the kind of person that people fight for…”

Born and raised in LA, Natalie says she had everything she wanted ever since she was a little girl. “All of a sudden, my big sister, who is also my best friend, who’s been taking care of me, told me she was joining this military force, to protect an entire country.”

“It sounded completely absurd, so I came with her,” she says emphatically.

Natalie attended school in Israel and followed her sister through her service. “I got a completely different view on what the Army was, what Israel was, and how the people were,” she says.

Coming back to America six months later, and enrolling once again in her high school in LA, “every decision that I would make just felt wrong. I had my car, my friends, but it felt different. My friends weren’t real friends any more. In Israel I had met so many people that impacted me in different kinds of ways, that brought out my true colors.”

She says that from being an American Valley Girl, all of a sudden she started feeling Jewish and out of place. Israel began to feel “like a calling for me,” she says. “And I came over.”

She signed up with Gar’in Tzabar, in preparation for IDF service. Her parents are divorced, and her father was not pleased. He had served seven years in the Army and “specifically came to America so that my sister and I would have a better life.”

Since then, “not a month goes by when he doesn’t tell me, Why don’t you come home, I’ll buy you a car, I’ll get you your own apartment…”

But her mother, an Israeli, is a free spirit, she says, willing to support her in all her decisions, and always letting her know how proud of her she is. “When she heard that I’m going to Israel, it lit up her whole future. It gave her another reason to come visit Israel every so often.”

In Israel she reconnected with her mother’s family. “I’ve made extreme efforts to spend time with them,” she says. “My little cousin is 10-years-old, and I call him every weekend just to make sure things are going good at school and Kratae class, yada, yada. It’s nice to be part of this new family.”

Serving as a lone soldier is something you get used to, Natalie says. “I went to a friend’s house. His sister was sick so they were taking care of her in the living room. His mom was preparing food, his dad was on the computer. In the middle of all that, I just started crying.”

We spoke on the eve of Passover, and Natalie told me she was planning to stay on duty, to let other soldiers go home for the holiday.

Her discharge is right around the corner. “I’ve been so nervous about it. In the Army, even though it’s stressful and you learn so much about yourself, you’re still somewhat of a child. The Army takes care of you. They feed me, they tell me where to go and when.”

“When I’m done with the Army, that’s it, I’m not a child any more, I’m an adult. I have bills, I have to worry about a place to live, how to eat, where to work, where to go to school. It’s really stressful.”

She may end up staying a little longer in the Army, working on a base nearby. The skills required will be lower than her current rank as dog handler, but she’d be commanding a team of canine guards.

“The Army has taught me that there’s no such thing as giving up,” she says. “There’s no such thing as I’m tired, so I’m not going to do it.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “Lone Soldiers: Valley Girl Turned IAF Dog Handler”

  1. Check it out everyone, This is my good friend in the Motherland!
    So proud of you Nat!

  2. chag sameach how r u.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Hip Hop musicians Kosha Dillz and Diwon created "No More War" in response to the current conflict.
Hip Hop Artists Create Song About Gaza-Israel War (VIDEO)
Latest News Stories
Hip Hop musicians Kosha Dillz and Diwon created "No More War" in response to the current conflict.

Hip Hop musicians create a song and video to express how they feel about the current Arab/Israel war.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)

Senators wrote to Obama insisting any ceasefire ensures Israel will be free from Gazan terrorism.

Eastern Jerusalem  Arabs clash with Israeli police.

Friday, the end of Ramadan, will show whether the Palestinian Authority wants to renew the intifada.

IDC APC covered with letters of support from children of Israel.

If you get the pun, let me know.

Hamas committed two war crimes at once – firing from the area of the school and preventing civilians to evacuate.

Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a suicide bomber and blew up a vehicle loaded with Grad missiles, its military reported Wednesday. The suicide bomber was wearing a vest loaded with explosives while approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing. The truck with missiles and launchers was on the Egyptian side of border near Gaza. Since the fall […]

The number of rockets and missiles fired on Israel is decreasing, but the war is far from over.

Israel threatened to go disproportional on Gaza, if the FAA ban on US flights to Israel wasn’t rescinded.

Two people were injured in a mortar strike in the Eshkol region. One was hurt seriously, and the other was lightly injured. They were taken to Soroka hospital for treatment.

Hamas rockets exploded in the area, and there was heavy combat going on. UNRWA admits rockets hidden in their other schools have “gone missing.”

Chairman Avner Shalev: Countries must combat “expressions of anti-Semitism”

Israeli leaders say London has special responsibility to stand by Israel at this hour of need; Hammond: Israel right to defend self.

Finance, Economy ministries team up to support Israeli businesses struggling under weight of non-stop rocket fire.

New president to take office this evening; was elected June 10 following bitter campaign

Mrs. Beck took personal interest and was hands-on, sharing with her children, grandchildren, and others the wonderful values that she stood for.

Overnight clash leads dozens of Islamic heroes to surrender; many brought to Shin Bet for debriefing

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/idf/lone-soldiers-valley-girl-turned-iaf-dog-handler/2012/04/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: