Nineteen-year-old Dorit, born and raised in New York City, lived with her controlling, fearful mother, who was the child of Holocaust survivors. Dorit’s father, an Israeli-born artist, held boozy Greenwich Village parties, where children were ignored. Her divorced parents gave her conflicting messages. Her mother said, “You must go to college to become a somebody.” Her father was clear about one thing: “If you don’t leave New York, you will end up just like your mother” — paranoid and irrational.
Dorit made an audacious move: In 1990, she dropped out of college, moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces against the express wishes of both her mother and father.
Dorit joined the Nahal Brigade as a lone soldier (one without immediate family in Israel). While in today’s IDF there are many programs to assist the lone soldier, in those years, there were no organized programs. Dorit had to struggle through many difficulties. As she says, “The challenges I faced pushed me to my limits. I tried to get along with Russians, Brits and other nationalities. I was bullied and ridiculed, but I tried to keep in sight the path and why leaving my mother was necessary.”
“Accidental Soldier” is a memoir of Dorit’s journey from a fearful, self-absorbed teenager to a confident, independent young woman via her two-year service in the IDF.
Her memoir can be read on many levels: as the story of a female immigrant; as the story of a lone soldier; as a tale of a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship; and as a coming of age story. Though it is set in the IDF in Israel, it is not a political book in any way. Though it is a military story, the only “combat” is internal. It is a “hero’s journey.” Through tests and trials, a personal transformation occurs.
Dorit Sasson found maturity, education, a career and love and a husband in her more than 18 years in Israel. Now living in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children, Sasson teaches English as a Second Language at Duquesne University. She read from her book at Repair the World, in East Liberty last Sunday as a fundraiser for Friends of the IDF. She will hold other book readings throughout Western Pennsylvania.
“Accidental Soldier” was shortlisted for the Sante Fe Literary Awards and is a finalist in the military category for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Visit Sasson’s website, doritsasson.com/accidental-soldier for more information.
Simone Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.