Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXII. My Military Career (5 of 5)

It wasn`t long before we (the army and I) found ourselves at a crossroads.

Back in the ‘50s, individuals with university education were in short supply; indeed few people had even completed their gymnassia (high school).  You will therefore understand the army desire to retain an educated recruit.

In addition, the army subjected me to tests (personality and knowledge) that indicated that I was highly adaptable, very enthusiastic, and possessed knowledge far exceeding what one would expect from somebody so young.  What intrigued them the most was the multiplicity of languages I have mastered. Some of their questions and my responses follow.

“How did you manage to learn all these tongues?” I was asked.

“I had to, just like I am now working to be proficient in Hebrew.”

“Do you really know Arabic well?”

“Of course, it’s one of my two mother tongues.”  And here again they were astonished as to how casually I referred to two native languages.  I stressed that in many cultures a child is exposed to two languages from the get-go; for instance an educated Indian family will speak in Hindu and English and their children will automatically acquire both languages.

For me, the army would have allowed me to acquire a profession and enough experience to do well when my service was over.  A career in the military was also a possibility; and it came with a good pay and many benefits you cannot secure in the civilian realm.

Put in simple terms, both parties were eager to make it work.  But how?

First I was subjected to additional medical examinations; they clearly showed that there was nothing wrong with me except that I was greatly underweight.   That said, the basic training would not force me to box above my weight!

The officers I met made it clear that the army could not add any water to its wine; what a   soldier in the professional corps was subjected to was the bare minimum.  Nevertheless – and here the hints were of necessity very vague – the door was open to “looking the other way.”  Indeed, that has already happened; I previously mentioned the concessions made by my sergeant.  But here again, a line had to be drawn; for instance a soldier had to at least learn to shoot a gun!

I met with a high-ranking officer who interviewed me extensively.  He didn’t have prepared questions, and he took few notes.  He told me that he was here to listen, and that I was to ask any questions that came to my mind.  And he was as good as his word; he seldom interrupted me, and told me to take my time.

I also met with a psychiatrist; based on his line of questioning, I concluded that he wanted to determine if I was faking it to avoid my military duties.  I have no doubt in my mind that he established that I was a trustworthy individual.

While waiting for the decision of the army, I found myself assigned to kitchen duties.  I did a variety of chores; the one that I remember is peeling potatoes; even today, carrying out this task reminds me of how bored and frustrated I was back then.

The first unofficial news was that the army was giving it serious consideration.

But then came the matter of the tmikha (financial assistance).

You may remember that I was partially supporting my parents.  My father was not making enough money from the grocery store he owned; therefore my parents relied on what I earned from my temporary work assignments.  By the same token, Robert was already in the army.  With two children in the military, the way was open for asking for financial aid; and accordingly, I put in a monetary assistance request.  While all this was going on, my relief application was under consideration.

I am guessing here. I believe that the accountants could not recommend to the army to retain me.  First, it was debatable whether I would ever become a bona fide soldier.  Second, they had to train me for a profession.  Finally, they had to assist my parents financially.  Despite my potential, it was not worth it for them to keep me.

The news that I was going to be discharged did not particularly upset me, but neither did I rejoice.

On my discharge paper I was given a beth kaf taf.  It’s an acronym that in effect indicates that while I did not complete my service, I was not dishonorably discharged.

This did not mean that I was completely finished with the army; I was now in the reserve, and my duties were in the area of civil defense.


This is the army lyrics (1942)


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