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Joely Metz '15


I was born and raised in “the ‘Stead” [West Hempstead]. I transferred to YHT in third grade because my mom wanted me to get a better Hebrew education than I was getting, and that proved the right move. My best friend to this day is someone I met that first year at YHT.

When did you graduate YHT?

What have you been up to since you graduated YHT?
After YHT I went to Central for high school. I was involved in a lot of extracurriculars there. I was head of the school choir for two years, did debate, band, Arista, the school musical, and just a lot of musical things.  

When I was 14, I started thinking about the IDF but wasn’t sure if it was for me. By the time I was in 11th grade I thought about going to seminary and it just didn’t feel right for me. I love learning, particularly gemara, but I wanted my year in Israel to be about giving back to Israel more directly. I felt like I could learn anywhere but I had one chance to serve in the army and give back. Part of my personal motivation was doing it for my grandfather and mother, neither of whom were able to serve in the IDF but had wanted to. My grandfather had a heart murmur and wasn’t allowed to serve in 1967. That was upsetting to him. My mother made aliya in 1988 and wanted to serve but there was a wave of Russian immigrants at the time and they didn’t have a spot for her. She chose to go to Hebrew University instead. I felt like if I served, it would make them proud and honor my grandfather’s memory.  

Meanwhile, while still in high school, I taught art at Creative Corner to kids and adults with special needs from Yachad, which I loved. I trained to be an EMT when I was 17 and took the exam 2 weeks after I turned 18. However, since I was planning to make aliyah shortly after, no company wanted to invest in training me for such a short period of work.
I made aliyah and service through an organization called Garin Tzabar. They have different programs. I joined the religious group. We lived on a kibbutz and drafted to the IDF while maintaining our religious observance.  

I drafted to the IDF in November 2019. I did basic training for a month and then became an army medic. Medic training took 3 months and I finished in March 2020, becoming a combat medic on a base responsible for the western Lebanon border. We see a lot of Syrian refugees, Lebanese refugees of chemical warfare, and just a lot of refugees from war-torn places, unfortunately. They come to Israel because they can’t get the care they need in their countries. 

That’s incredible. 
I really love Israel. I just think it’s a good place for Jews to live. There’s no other country that will fully accept us. Serving in the IDF is a way for me to express to the world that I'm really passionate about Israel and that it’s important to me. Joining the army was difficult, I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of physical stuff that is hard. But you keep in mind the bigger goal of protecting our Jewish faith and ideology, and our right to live in peace in our homeland. It’s important to me to defend that. My army service will be 2 years unless I sign up for extra. I plan on coming back to the U.S. to do medical school and then return to Israel permanently. 

Do you have any favorite YHT memories?
Mr. Stern and Ms. Kopman were my favorite teachers. Having Ms. Kopman really built the foundation for my love of science and biology. She put a fun spin on everything. She knew her material like no one else and had a great way of interacting with the subject. I took AP U.S. History in high school because Mr. Stern made it fun and entertaining. I also love gemara. I started learning gemara with Rabbi Silverman in 6th grade and then I took gemara with Ms. Kletenik after that. I fell in love with it and have been taking gemara classes ever since.