Rank and File: Training a Lens on Female Combat Soldiers

Steven Klein
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Israeli army barracks with the phrase "Lohmot isuf," referring to female soldiers, photographed by Debbie Zimelman.
Israeli army barracks with the phrase "Lohmot isuf," referring to female soldiers, photographed by Debbie Zimelman.Credit: Debbie Zimelman
Steven Klein

FOCUSING ON FEMALE SOLDIERS: Professional photographer Debbie Zimelman didn’t know women served as combat soldiers in the Israeli army until a friend’s daughter was drafted to the coed Caracal Battalion a few years ago. “I wish I had been able to do that,” the Washington native told Haaretz. “I thought the next best thing would be to photograph her and her comrades.” Debbie eventually persuaded the Israel Defense Forces to let her photograph a different women’s combat unit for a project that was published in Hadassah Magazine. Both parties were pleased enough with the results that the army gave her the go-ahead to complete the first-ever photo book on female combat soldiers in the IDF. The end result is her new book, “Women on the Front Lines.” On Monday, Debbie will hold a book launch at Connect Workspace Modi’in. The evening, to be moderated by Haaretz’s Larry Derfner, will also feature two female combat soldiers whom Debbie interviewed for the book. For more info, email Debbie through her website www.debzim.com.

BONEI ZION PRIZEWINNERS ANNOUNCED: Seven immigrants from English-speaking countries have been awarded the 2019 Sylvan Adams Bonei Zion Prize for their contributions to the State of Israel, immigrant-assistance association Nefesh B’Nefesh announced on Monday. The honorees include Dr. Ora Paltiel, director of Hadassah’s Center for Research in Clinical Epidemiology; Leah Abramowitz, co-founder of Melabev; Michael Dickson, executive director of StandWithUs; Dr. Beverly Gribetz, principal of the Tehilla-Evelina Secondary School for Religious Girls in Jerusalem; and Danny Hakim, founder and chairman of Budo for Peace and chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel. Harold ‘Smoky’ Simon, who helped found the Israel Air Force and headed World Machal, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Also, Miriam Ballin, founder of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, received the Young Leadership Prize.

SHOWCASING TELFED: Over 460 scholarships were awarded to students at Telfed’s Annual Scholarship Ceremony last Thursday at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan. In her opening address, Telfed Chair Batya Shmukler said: “We don’t often get a chance to meet all of the students that we assist in a single event. This evening helps us to appreciate the magnitude of what we are doing, and we are incredibly proud to be able to assist so many students.” Telfed CEO Dorron Kline said the diverse services that Telfed offers to Southern African and Australian immigrants, in addition to the scholarship programs, showcase Telfed’s raison d’être: To support such immigrants as they establish themselves in Israel so that, in time, they will make meaningful contributions to Israeli society. Maya Isac, the daughter of South African immigrants, gave a musical performance.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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