IDF soldiers to lead teen Mini-Boot Camp

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Teens will have the chance to experience life as an Israeli Defense Forces recruit during a one-day mini-boot camp led by two soldiers from the IDF on April 6 according to Kaleidoscope Israel Teen Co-chairs Richie and Tommy Gallant.

Richie Gallant said the committee “wanted to try something unique in the St Louis Jewish community. By interacting with real soldiers who serve in the IDF, it helps teens develop a greater empathy and identification with Israeli kids. ” The Kaleidoscope Israel Mini-Boot Camp will be held for students in grades 8 through 12, from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Sunday, April 6 at Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road.

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The Mini-Boot Camp program is co-sponsored by the Kaleidoscope Israel Teen Committee and the Jewish Federation Partnership 2000 Committee.

Partnership 2000 is a joint sister-community venture of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the United Jewish Communities, which includes a variety of people-to-people and group-to-group activities.

“We are really pumped at the prospect of learning what actual IDF members do in their basic training at our Mini-Boot Camp, ” Tommy Gallant said. “While there is no way we can duplicate what these soldiers actually go through, at least we can get a feel for what Israelis face. “

Tommy Gallant described the Boot Camp as including “a series of drills and interactive activities. Kids who take part should wear comfortable clothing and come to Congregation Shaare Emeth prepared to work out and have fun. We hope that we will all gain a lifetime of important experiences, memories and feelings of connection to our fellow Jews in Israel through this event. “

The two young Israeli soldiers, Reuven Eliyahu and Dan Yakov, are from the St. Louis Partnership 2000 community of Yokneam-Meggido, Israel. They bring an interesting set of credentials to this Mini Boot Camp assignment.

Reuven Eliyahu was born in 1984. He is fluent in English and served in the Israel Defense Forces from 2003-2007. His service record includes combat in the elite Golani Brigade, Battalion 13 (Gideon). He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant.

“My entire army service consisted of dealing with pressure situations, heavy workloads and unconventional working hours, ” Eliyahu said. “In my last post, I commanded a platoon, for training and operations. ” Throughout his army service, he completed all of his posts and courses with distinction — first as distinguished basic and advanced training recruit of my platoon, and later as distinguished service trainee in a company commander’s course, an overland staff officer’s course, and the distinguished company trainee in the Gefen Infantry officer’s course. He holds a Matriculation Certificate, majoring in computers, physics and Arabic, from the Reali School in Haifa.

Dan Yakov was born in 1986 and also speaks fluent English. He served in the IDF from 2005-08 as a combat soldier: eight months in the 401st Brigade of the Armored Corps; four months in a tank commander’s course; six months as boot camp commander at Shizafon Training Base; six months as company sergeant major in the brigade’s third division, and one year in an instructional post, working with corps students at Tel Hashomer Base. He has a full Matriculation Certificate with a major in the highest levels, five units in biology, English and the science and engineering program.

“These guys obviously are more than qualified to lead our simulated boot camp since they have been through and have done the real thing, ” Richie Gallant said. “Dan and Reuven will lead a series of drills and activities as they give us a feel for their training. They will share moving personal stories of their lives leading up to their Israeli Army service, and what it is like to be in the IDF, as well as their plans for the future. We are incredibly lucky Reuven and Dan are available to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Jewish teens of St. Louis. “

Kaleidoscope Israel @ 60, is a year-long series of activities, classes, programs and entertainment events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. In addition to Richie and Tommy, their parents, Amy and Steve, and grandparents Diane and Paul Gallant are overall co-chairs of Kaleidoscope Israel. Community leader Michael Staenberg, is honorary chair. “We are extremely proud of Richie and Tommy and their fantastic Teen Committee for coming up with the concept of the Mini-Boot Camp, ” said Diane Gallant.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Karen Rader at the Central Agency for Jewish Education, 314-442-3756 or [email protected]. Kaleidoscope Israel and Partnership 2000 are both funded by generous grants from the Lubin-Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation.