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by Rhonda Spivak, Nov 8, 2019

On October 29, The Canadian Friends of Hebrew University partnered with the Duvdevan Foundation to present "Meet the Real Fauda Soldiers," an evening to hear inspiring stories as told by front line combat soldiers of the Duvdevan Unit. Some 75 people attended the event that took place at Shaarey Zedek synagogue, and was designed to raise money to support scholarships at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for former soldiers of the Duvdevan unit.

During the evening, Roey, a former soldier and currently a major in the reserves, noted that the Duvdevan unit is the basis for the popular Netlflix series "Fauda." As he said: "But the truth is much more complex. Because real life is far beyond any script."

From that point on, the audience was taken through the personal and real-life experiences of Roey, Boaz and Isaac; all former active members of Duvdevan. They reflected on the rigors of training, both physical and psychological. Murray Palay, former National Chair of CFHU and an organizer of the event remarked: “At very young ages they were forced to make some difficult choices – both their lives and the lives of their “brothers” were hanging on split second decisions. Their training, discipline and commitment to Duvdevan consumed their lives leaving little or no time for outside activities, normal activities for their age – but prepared them for those daunting situations they would inevitably face.”

The talks by the soldiers were interspersed with videos, some portrayals of operations and some actual live footage of operations. Because of the sensitivity of some of the videos and the very personal stories related by the soldiers, you had to be there – the information cannot be published.

What was perhaps the most moving part of the evening was the admission of the personal struggles these young soldiers faced during the transition from elite soldier to civilian. Isaac commented that during operations every soldier must be trained at the highest level possible. So these soldiers trained hard every day, and then they were somewhat abruptly done. Boaz spoke about the difficulty of “no longer wake up every morning knowing that I'm doing something meaningful for my country and for my people and I faced the frightening prospect of academic studies."

Isaac’s message was similar, “When one leaves the Duvdevan Unit, civilian life can be difficult especially if you've seen difficult things."

Palay further elaborated: “When they move on from Duvdevan, many alumni carry baggage from their experiences. It can be emotional baggage (such as PTSD) or financial baggage (unable to save for education). They now have to get on with their lives. Stepping into that void to support its alumni is the Duvdevan Foundation."

What the Foundation does goes beyond just financial help. It supports veterans like Boaz in the transition to civilian life; offering guidance and mentorship and camaraderie from fellow veterans, building new families and support systems. It offers young men such as Isaac the opportunity for higher learning at the Hebrew University; an otherwise impossible achievement.

The Foundation is not supported by the government and is sustained in large part by generous donors across North America. Palay was thrilled that "CFHU, and our Winnipeg Chapter in particular, was partnering with the Duvdevan Foundation. It is our chance to give back and support these courageous and extraordinary young men and women-to assist them in a small way to get an education without the financial stress of having to work and study. It is not much to ask."

A full 4 year scholarship is 40,000 NIS (shekels) converting to $15,000 Cdn. This is a relatively small sum that enables deserving soldiers to earn a degree at one of the top ranking universities in the world.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution towards a partial or full scholarship can email Ayala Davis: [email protected]

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.