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Old 03-06-2012, 01:51 AM
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Default Joining IDF/IDF Medical Standards

Hello, I am currently 21 years old and in the process of a Reform conversion at a congregation under the authority of the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism). I would like to serve in the IDF upon completion of my conversion and would like to get some insight on what it would be like for someone like myself. I have many questions so I apologize if this post is long.

First, would I need to take any documents from Doctors, Psychiatrists, ect. from the United States and present them to the medical staff in the IDF or will they just perform their own medical exam/evaluations when I go to enlist?

Second, I am willing to serve in a non-combat unit if I am deemed to be unfit for combat service. What are the chances of getting into a Military Intelligence Unit or something related to supporting combat troops "behind the scenes"? Although I do not mind serving in a non-combat unit because the important part is providing service to Israel, I would still like to be in a unit where I could still have an impact if there are any confrontations.

Third, are there any written exams that test a person's skill in mathematics, language, etc. that I would need to take to be placed into a unit that is like the ASVAB exam that the United States military uses?

I suppose these questions are enough for now, I will definitely follow-up on responses if I have more questions then. My goal is to go to Israel, serve in the IDF, convert via Orthodoxy when in Israel and then join the Israeli Police if I am able to qualify. If not, then I will just continue my studies at University.

The reason I have concerns over medical qualifications is because I have a history of depression here in the United States. I was 17 years old at the time and immature. I received therapy for Suicidal thoughts and learned coping mechanisms. I currently do not have any depressive thoughts what so ever and do not receive therapy or any treatment anymore. I have learned to cope with anything on my own and realize that my past "depression" was actually just immaturity and I do not want it to severly impact my chances of serving in the IDF and achieving my dreams. I was once diagnosed with exercise induced asthma by a doctor here in the United States as well. But, I have never had an asthma attack and do not take any medication for it. I disagree with the Doctor's diagnosis because I did not even have a Pulmonary Function test done when he diagnosed me and I had one done two years before that and passed it. So, that seems strange to me and I truely believe that I do not have that and that I am just out of shape and used to smoke so that is probably why I had difficulty exercising.

So, I would appreciate any responses and direction that I could get from anyone on the forums. Thank all who respond in advance for your time and I look forward to your answers!
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:42 AM
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Welcome to the board.

While I look forward to your long term relationship with us here on the board, I wanted to clarify a number of my answers prior to delivering them.

The answers I supply on this site are what would be considered "company policy". In other words, my answers will be based on regulations, not exceptions. There are many opportunities for "lobbying" within the architecture of Israeli life, and the military is included in that statement.

So let's start right off. I urge you to do research into the topic of eligibilty for Israeli citizenship. I worded it this way, because service in the military for a foreign national or new immigrant is prdicated on "being eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return".

As to military duty and medical screening. Yes, you will be required to produce a notarized document from your family physician that he legally certifies you are fit to serve in a military. This is indeed a prescreening, as a medical exam as well as phsycho-vocational test will be administered to determine where you are best suited to serve during the enlistment process. Decisions by the IDF doctor are final.
As to placement, the less hebrew skill you have, the narrower the choices. Easily 95% of people who come to the army at the age you will arrive end up in infantry if they are admitted to the IDF at all.

If you are twenty one now, let's assume you are 22 when you complete your conversion. If your documentation is in order for you to make aliyah, there is a one year residency requirement prior to the IDF coming to draft you. This year is to allow you to absorb some society, hebrew, weather cycle, food absorption and cultural adaption. Some have been known
to have this period shortened, but you never hear about them having any kind of success in the IDF. You need to be prepared to support yourself in Israel for no less than six months upon arrival. So let's assume you arrive at 22 or 23. Looking at the age charts, there is a possibility that even if every thing else clicks, and the IDF can still decide they don't need you.

It may not be wise to hinge a future on joining the Israel Police. As you might expect, most positions are cemented during the sadir years, when a recruit can take the path from Military Police or Border Police into the force. With thousands to choose from each year, many positions are filled long before they are even known about.

There are many positions in the IDF that involve "fighting", and more than ten times as many that do not. Certain units are indeed prohibited to dual nationals, non-natives or those with family outside of the country. Also, as you might expect, some types of military jobs require a higher level of hebrew literacy than others.

As to your medical history. I alluded earlier in the answers that your medical history, especially as an above age foreigner wanting to enter the IDF, is scrutinized very closely. Medical records will be checked on both sides of the ocean, as will all other legal records. Anything that might preclude you from entering the US military would preclude your entering the IDF.

You state repeatedly that your desire is to live in Israel and to help that country. I would urge you to research your questions thoroughly, and then ask yourself to reason out why the IDF would be interested in someone of your age, with your hebrew level, with your medical history when there is no manpower shortage in the IDF. I am not asking why it is important for you to serve, I am asking you why the IDF would think it important to have you.
For information about enlisting in the IDF please see our archives from the now closed web site:
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Old 03-06-2012, 04:16 AM
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I appreciate your detailed answers Rafi. I will take your advice and continue to conduct research on the questions that I have. I also understand that the IDF respectively, would not have an interest for someone in my situation to join their ranks. It is a dream of mine to have the opportunity to serve in the IDF but if things do not work out and I am not accepted then I will just have to live with that and go about my life without doing so. I know there are many other volunteer programs and I am certainly willing to participate in those as well but I would like to know that I gave my all in trying to join the IDF prior to joining another volunteer program. The IDF to me, is the most meaningful way of serving Israel and I know it will not be easy for someone like myself to get in, if I get in at all.

I have currently been taking Hebrew classes at the congregation where I am in the process of conversion and studying with a friend of mine who participated in the Mahal program a few years ago.

I do not have any criminal record at all (not even a traffic ticket) so my main worry of course is the medical requirements. I expressed my interest in joining the IDF in the past (if I am able to immigrate to Israel) to both a therapist I used to see whom I still maintain contact with and my current physician, and both stated that they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation stating that I am stable to perform military duties. I do not know if that will matter to the IDF medical staff though considering that it is coming from foreign professionals. They are both Jewish though and have both been to Israel as well.

Again, I appreciate your answers and I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens when that moment comes. In the meantime I will continue to focus on my conversion and Hebrew studies. My true desire to live in Israel is for religious purposes since I wish to have an Orthodox conversion done there but, IDF service is something that I feel strongly about and feel is important for someone like myself to do as well.
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