Life in the IDF for Community Member Roee Shua-Haim

By Mrs. Frieda Schweky Jan 23, 2018 11:41 AM

Roee Shua-Haim grew up in the Syrian community in Eatontown, NJ on a quiet street. His upbringing was slightly different than his peers because both of his parents are Israeli and have served in the Israeli Defense Force. Due to this, he was raised with strong zionist principals.

When Shua-Haim graduated from Hillel Yeshiva high school, he felt the urge to leave home on his own and become independent. For some of his peers, this would mean going off to college, but Roee saw no more appropriate rout then enlisting in the IDF. For Roee, to serve the country he identifies as a second home was extremely important. Roee enlisted in 2008 and never looked back.

According to Roee, training for the Israeli army is an unforgettable experience. Trainees get to try out many different courses to find their place and earn pins for each one completed. Roee trained to be a paratrooper and has earned multiple pins for his efforts. Shua-Haim also took a four month course to become a commander. Roee recalled this experience fondly. The commanders course was his favorite one.

“That was fun because I got to be with different people from units outside of my own,” explained Roee of his experience in the commander course. “I got a feel for each of their different attitudes and saw how those units worked together.”

“It was also a nice break from the reality of the army. You were treated better too, like a commander rather than a subordinate.”

Shua-Haim thinks back to his training fondly to this day. 20-hour days, never consistently sleeping, hardly eating, and a lot of walking and suffering. Despite all of this, Roee recalls it as an incredible experience and is proud that he was able to serve for roughly three years.

Roee remained in Israel for about nine years after the army. While in Israel, he stayed in the reserves which is something a former soldier does to help out and retain his skills from training. For about 30 days each year that Roee lived in Israel, he would return to base and do different tasks for the IDF.

Roee claims that the IDF changed him a lot, however change comes naturally throughout life regardless of what path you choose. It’s what he got out of the change that Shua-Haim values so much.

“The IDF gives you things you can’t get anywhere else. For me, I gained maturity. Of course I gained physical strength, but a lot mental strength too, and confidence,” said Roee of his overall experience in the IDF. “I got my degree in engineering and without my army experience, there's no way I would have had the confidence and discipline to stay the course. I would have given up.”

Shua-Haim is now back in the United States. He is working as a structural engineer at an engineering firm and is also working towards getting his engineering license in the US.

“For those who don’t understand what I do, it can be explained pretty simply,” explained Roee of his current position. “An architect's job is to design a building, my job is to figure out how to make it stand.”

The IDF and the Israeli Scouts work in collaboration to help soldiers from abroad. From time to time, they ask Roee to sit on a panel and speak to men and women who are considering leaving their home country and enlisting in the IDF like he did. These potential soldiers get to ask any questions they might have to the panelists on the subject. Roee says he’s happy to help and advise anyone who calls him considering this path.

Roee believes that it is important to help people make the right decision when thinking about joining the IDF. Not only can people help the IDF by enlisting, but donations and volunteer work to help the IDF soldiers get through their time in the forces is important as well.

“We were in the middle of the desert once and it was the first night of Chanukah. With us, we carried only water and dry bread to sustain us. Suddenly a truck came bringing sufganiyot someone had donated,” recalled Roee of a meaningful experience during his time with the IDF. “I remember how thrilled and grateful we all were.

“It’s been roughly ten years since this occurrence and I can still remember the taste of the delicious snack. How much could those donuts have costed? About 25 cents a piece? Just goes to show how even the smallest of donations to the IDF can make large a impact.”

Roee Shua-Haim grew up in the Syrian community in Eatontown, NJ on a quiet street. His upbringing was slightly different than his peers because both of his parents are Israeli and have served in the Israeli Defense Force. Due to this, he was raised with strong zionist principals.

When Shua-Haim graduated from Hillel Yeshiva high school, he felt the urge to leave home on his own and become independent. For some of his peers, this would mean going off to college, but Roee saw no more appropriate rout then enlisting in the IDF. For Roee, to serve the country he identifies as a second home was extremely important. Roee enlisted in 2008 and never looked back.

According to Roee, training for the Israeli army is an unforgettable experience. Trainees get to try out many different courses to find their place and earn pins for each one completed. Roee trained to be a paratrooper and has earned multiple pins for his efforts. Shua-Haim also took a four month course to become a commander. Roee recalled this experience fondly. The commanders course was his favorite one.

“That was fun because I got to be with different people from units outside of my own,” explained Roee of his experience in the commander course. “I got a feel for each of their different attitudes and saw how those units worked together.”

“It was also a nice break from the reality of the army. You were treated better too, like a commander rather than a subordinate.”

Shua-Haim thinks back to his training fondly to this day. 20-hour days, never consistently sleeping, hardly eating, and a lot of walking and suffering. Despite all of this, Roee recalls it as an incredible experience and is proud that he was able to serve for roughly three years.

Roee remained in Israel for about nine years after the army. While in Israel, he stayed in the reserves which is something a former soldier does to help out and retain his skills from training. For about 30 days each year that Roee lived in Israel, he would return to base and do different tasks for the IDF.

Roee claims that the IDF changed him a lot, however change comes naturally throughout life regardless of what path you choose. It’s what he got out of the change that Shua-Haim values so much.

“The IDF gives you things you can’t get anywhere else. For me, I gained maturity. Of course I gained physical strength, but a lot mental strength too, and confidence,” said Roee of his overall experience in the IDF. “I got my degree in engineering and without my army experience, there's no way I would have had the confidence and discipline to stay the course. I would have given up.”

Shua-Haim is now back in the United States. He is working as a structural engineer at an engineering firm and is also working towards getting his engineering license in the US.

“For those who don’t understand what I do, it can be explained pretty simply,” explained Roee of his current position. “An architect's job is to design a building, my job is to figure out how to make it stand.”

The IDF and the Israeli Scouts work in collaboration to help soldiers from abroad. From time to time, they ask Roee to sit on a panel and speak to men and women who are considering leaving their home country and enlisting in the IDF like he did. These potential soldiers get to ask any questions they might have to the panelists on the subject. Roee says he’s happy to help and advise anyone who calls him considering this path.

Roee believes that it is important to help people make the right decision when thinking about joining the IDF. Not only can people help the IDF by enlisting, but donations and volunteer work to help the IDF soldiers get through their time in the forces is important as well.

“We were in the middle of the desert once and it was the first night of Chanukah. With us, we carried only water and dry bread to sustain us. Suddenly a truck came bringing sufganiyot someone had donated,” recalled Roee of a meaningful experience during his time with the IDF. “I remember how thrilled and grateful we all were.

“It’s been roughly ten years since this occurrence and I can still remember the taste of the delicious snack. How much could those donuts have costed? About 25 cents a piece? Just goes to show how even the smallest of donations to the IDF can make large a impact.”

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Frieda Schweky is Sephardic.Org's official community events reporter. For inquiries and to get involved with our site, please contact Frieda via email.