In a few days, I will be celebrating my 40th birthday, a landmark occasion in someone’s life. For some, 40 means a countdown to the end; I choose to believe that it’s just the starting point of life. The 40’s are the typical period when people have “mid-life crises”: a thorough internal reflection of what lies ahead. But Judaism teaches us that age begets wisdom, and so I consider this phase of my life as an opportunity and I shall so coin it as a period of “Mid-Life Opportunities”.
Forty also signals a major shift for members of the IDF Reserves like me, as this marks the end of mandatory service to the Forces. Gone will be the days when I must respond to duty calls as a matter of obligation. But once a soldier, always he shall be. I have resolved to continue serving in the IDF reserves at a voluntary capacity. And true to this commitment, I have received an email a few days back that I shall be called to serve by the end of November.
Three weeks short of my 19th birthday in 2001, I joined the Israel Defense Forces as part of the Artillery Brigade. At the time, I viewed the IDF not only as an honorable opportunity to defend Israel, but also as a chance to bear witness to the true diversity of the State of Israel. The IDF, as one of our former Prime Ministers said, is a melting pot: the point of convergence that brings the color and texture of our modern-day homeland. In the middle of the desert, I was put together with Israelis of different origins, cultures, and ways of life, and of people who practice Judaism in a variety of ways. People of differing political views are all present, bound and committed to the same goal: to protect Israel and their fellow citizens no matter the cost.
PizzaIDF, the organization my father founded in 2002, and which I and my wife, Tanya, have been running for over a decade, is the largest mid-life opportunity that I want to better. Today, as it has been for many years, it has focused on delivering moral support and affirmation to the troops through pizzas and food items. More can be done. In my 40’s, I envision to transform this organization and make it as our family’s continuing legacy: the mid-life opportunity that I shall embrace, and a vocation that I can pass on to my children. And I hope that you can continue to be a part of this legacy.
People think turning 40 is scary, but fear is a natural emotion to the unknown. Let that fear be transformed into acceptance and action, embrace it with deep faith and optimism, and turn that feeling into an opportunity. Take it as a moment to embrace new challenges with the wisdom and grace that you have learned over the years, and, like a true soldier, keep calm and carry on.
I am proud to be a member of the IDF, and equally proud of the work we do at PizzaIDF. I thank the Forces for their dedication in keeping our great nation safe and secure everyday.
May G-d bless us all