March 30, 2019

In The College Season, Two Seniors Are Turning East

Sophie Goldman '19

Seniors AG and Ayala Jones aren’t concerned with college applications, but are instead choosing a slightly different path: joining the Israel Defense Forces.
When they enlist, AG and Jones will join a legacy of GOA alumni who have chosen to leave their families and familiar surroundings in order to serve and protect Israel.
AG began considering army service in his sophomore year after hosting Oz, a Rishon for the Greater Metrowest community. The friendships he formed through his participation in Gesher, a program run by the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest that connected Israeli and American students, further influenced his decision.
“That was when I started seriously looking into making aliyah,” AG said.
Meanwhile, Jones cites her family as a driving force of her decision.
“I have been raised and educated with Judaism and Zionism always coming into conversation,” she said. “I like the values that Judaism and Israel as a whole stand for, so I decided to turn my beliefs into action and enlist.”
Jones’ brother, GOA alum Rafi Jones, graduated in 2016 and is currently serving in the IDF. His positive experience, as well as the fact that both siblings hold Israeli citizenship, are additional factor in Jones’ choice to make aliyah.
GOA has also been another crucial influence on Jones and her decision.
“The school instilled a strong sense of Zionist values and has helped me understand Israel socially and politically to an extent I would not have been able to reach on my own,” she said.
AG agreed.
“Israel education and programming at GOA has definitely given me a strong sense of Zionism,” he noted.
The process of making aliyah has already begun for both students. AG has worked to improve his Hebrew and has taken on the additional workload of learning Arabic after school, while Jones has started thinking about physical fitness requirements and planning for her first year in Israel.
AG hopes to join a cyber operations unit, such as the C4i Directorate, which deals with cyber defense, or Unit 8200, which deals with military intelligence and encryption, although security restrictions as a new immigrant will likely prevent him from doing so. His interests also include special operations combat engineering.
Jones is unsure what unit she would like to join, but looks forward to learning more about her potential options while planning for her aliyah.
Before joining the IDF, both AG and Jones plan to take a gap year and attend a Mechina program, which prepares Israeli and foreign students for army service and emphasize leadership, service and education.
“I hope to learn more about the country, myself, the people and the IDF before enlisting,” Jones said.
It’s not easy for most students to imagine moving away from their families to join the IDF. Nonetheless, Jones said she sees similarities between herself and other Golda Och students who will enter college next fall.

“I think most of my anxiety and excitement is similar to most of my friends applying to colleges. None of us know what the future holds, but we’re excited for the new experiences, friends, challenges and memories we will make,” she said. “Both paths will definitely be hard, but we know that we will be happy in the end.”
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