Daniel Goldman, 24, finds pride in his connection to Israel.
After graduating from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in 2016, Goldman took a gap year in the Jewish state. His original plan of going straight into college was uprooted by his passion for Israel. After his gap year, Goldman decided to further his connection by joining the Israel Defense Forces in a combat engineering and demolition unit.
Now, Goldman lives in Tel Aviv and is planning on beginning college this year at Reichman University.
What did you decide to do after high school?
I think what I did after high school is really connected to what I did during. I was given so many opportunities at Beth Tfiloh. The Jewish community in general stresses giving students the opportunity to develop and gain experience. For me, that took character in all of the clubs, teams and plays that I was in. What influenced my decisions later were the things that connected me to Israel. I joined a choir called HaZamir when I was in ninth grade, and I became a teen leader in Baltimore. During that time, I was really close with the teen leaders of the Israeli cohort. I was given the foundation of Hebrew from Beth Tfiloh, which gave me the confidence to try speaking to them. It was really important to me to know Hebrew. Later, I joined Diller Teen Fellows and I spoke Hebrew to our sister-cohort in Israel. I then became pretty fluent.
When did you start thinking about the Israeli army?
I used to do everything I could to get good grades and have good extracurriculars to get into college. When I started thinking about doing a gap year in 11th grade, it really scared me. I was afraid that it meant throwing my life away. I kept it a secret from my parents for a while because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I wanted to come to them with a concrete decision.
I started talking to people and school and then I spoke to the shaliach at BT. He was the first person I said that I wanted to do the army. He said that whether I do the army or not, I should do a gap year program called mechina. This is a lot of volunteering and social leadership program. You have to be fluent in Hebrew to be considered for the program. Some of the friends I met there, I am still in contact with today.
I had a really hard time deciding what to do after that. I had already enrolled at the Scholars program at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I was going to study. I decided to become a lone soldier in May of that year. My parents were really scared. When I made that decision, I knew that again I needed to come to them with a concrete decision because this decision had to be my own. I couldn’t let anyone sway me because if they did and I regretted it, I didn’t want to be able to spread the blame to anyone but myself. I am very happy with my decision in the end.
What has life been like since your time in the army?
I was in the army for two years and eight months. Two months later, I found a job in Tel Aviv as the sales development representative at a company called Citizen Café Tel Aviv. We teach Hebrew both in person and online. I got a promotion very quickly as the sales development manager. Now, I train people for new jobs.
Now, I look at the young Daniel who was so petrified of even delaying his studies by a year and doing a gap year. I look at the experience I’ve gotten from where I am now, and I haven’t even gone to college.