Noam Smith (29) is a native of Kibbutz Gesher Haziv, where his parents still live. His mother was born to an American Catholic family and was motivated by Zionism to convert to Judaism while still in the United States. Because the conversion was performed under the auspices of the Reform Movement, she is not considered Jewish under Judaic law as recognized by the State of Israel, and Noam, her son, is not halakhically considered Jewish. Noam, however, views himself as a member of the Jewish people who lives a life of Jewish meaning.
Noam deferred his conscription by a year in order to participate in the Rabin Pre-Army Preparatory Program in Oranim. Afterward, he enlisted in the Shaked Battalion of the Givati Brigade along with friends from his mechina and went on to complete an officer course. In total, he served 4.4 years in Shaked, returning after his officer course to command platoons in several capacities until he was honorably discharged from the IDF in November 2010.
After his discharge, Noam spent two-and-a-half months hiking the Israel National Trail. In 2013 Noam came full circle and became a counselor at the Mechinat BINA Pre Army Program. Noam also works at the Amir Track, a recruitment mechanism for alumni of the mechinot and National Civil Service destined for the Golani Brigade, where he is responsible for forming a group of ten to fifteen individuals destined for Battalion 12 who are expected to serve as commanders and officers. The commanders of the Golani Brigade in recent years have heavily been Orthodox, with Orthodox soldiers represented in the brigade far beyond any proportion to the number of Orthodox individuals in Israeli society.
After being chosen as the project coordinator for its first year, Noam set about forming the group and at year’s end ushered into the Golani Brigade nine alumni of the mechinot and National Civil Service. Today, Noam is a member of the staff seeing this project through its second year. Several interested candidates have been interviewed, and there now is a core of some fifteen individuals to be conscripted next November. In the meantime, the group will benefit from three days of preparatory seminars in the spring and an additional two weeks in the summer and autumn during which they will meet their future commanders, engage in navigation exercises, study secular Jewish identity, and learn about the ethical dilemmas that military commanders must face. Post-conscription plans call for continued personal guidance and periodic seminars for group members.