Alum Naomi Gutstein (’15) posted the following status update on Facebook and agreed to let us share it. Naomi is one of dozens of ICJA alumni who have decided to serve in the army or sheirut lemui after high school. Yasher koach, Naomi!

Seven-and-a-half months into the army, I have officially entered סדיר (active duty)!

Today I accomplished something I thought wasn’t possible.
Today I rose up against the odds.
Today I proved to myself, that the will to not giving up, in the end has an amazing outcome.
Today I told myself even when I do not have the will to continue believing in myself and just want to quit, keep believing in myself.
Today I told myself “Just keep swimming” and “Dont Stop Beliving.”
Today I accomplished what people said was “the impossible” for me.

Today, I became a מדריכת אב”כ (chemical warfare instructor).

I started my מסלול, route, in the army in a place called Michve Alon. There I spent 3 months learning Hebrew. I left with skills, not only for learning Hebrew, but skills to help build confidence and to continue being me. I continued on to combat, but after 3 weeks, left for personal reasons.
I returned to the drafting base to receive a new job. I fought for Tank instructor, but instead the Officer told me he only had מדריכת אב”כ. I had no idea what it was, never heard about it before my conversation with the officers but knew I’d if did not take it I would not be Madricha.

The first day of the course came. I made my way through crying. Day 1 was done. A day turned into a few days, weeks, and slowly months. I had finally made it!!! I slowly learned to teach a lesson. I started off with ASL (American sign language), and continued to Lone Soldiers. From there on to objects used in אב”כ, to the lesson we have to pass to Combat soldiers.

The final lesson we had, was to go to a base of trainess and teach them אב”כ. I freaked out. ‘What about the language, what if I dont understand something or anything they say, what if I cant explain it?” was my fears I told my commanders. But slowly, yet surely, as I began to teach, the fear went away and I was able to teach 2 more lessons, the next one better than the one before.

Before I knew it, I had finished. In my last lesson, the soldiers clapped for me when they heard my story. An Olah Chadash, whom only 11 1/2 months ago, moved to this country from Chicago, and has enough Hebrew to teach this intense topic. And of course, at the end.

I realized I had nothing to fear. Ya my Hebrew is not 100%, but it’s an amazing improvement from where I was almost a year ago. From those 4 days, I realized the Hebrew cant stop me, and the fear I have is nothing but a small wall I need to climb over.

Before I knew it, it was over! I had made it to the final week, the final day, the final hour, the final minute, the טקס סיום (Finishing ceremony).

Today I accomplished what people thought was the impossible.
Today I accomplished, for me what was “The Impossible.”
Today I learned, dont let the little things stop you, because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Today. I became a מדריכת אב”כ.