The story of a special Israeli firefighter

An intellectually challenged youngster stops at nothing to fulfill his dream of becoming an Israeli firefighter.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Firefighters battle Jerusalem blaze
Firefighters battle Jerusalem blaze
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The extreme weather conditions of the past six days’ arson exacerbated by dry winds, led to raging wildfires, which broke out in different regions across Israel. Fire crews in Israel including the Army Firefighters worked around the clock to contain and extinguish a series of massive brush fires.

This is the story of a special firefighter, a story of a dream come true. It is about Moshe, a young man with an intellectual disability. He was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to Israel as young boy. Moshe had always dreamed of becoming a firefighter; as a child, he had waved to fire trucks whenever they drove by.

When his sister Hadas enlisted in the army, Moshe decided that despite everything, he wanted to enlist, too, in order to follow in his sister's footsteps. His mother and sister gently attempted to dissuade him, so he wouldn’t get disappointed by a possible rejection. But Moshe was determined, saying: "I want to serve in the army. I want to serve my country!”

However, when Moshe first approached an officer in the IDF enlistment office at the age of 18, he was immediately told that his disability would prevent him from serving. Moshe was devastated and felt depressed, as if he was useless, worthless. Eventually, he moved into a high-risk street life, and it was difficult for social workers and related professionals to engage him.

Moshe’s social worker reached out to Special in Uniform program to see if there was an opportunity for him to join the program. Special in Uniform is a unique program, now operating in partnership with the Jewish National Fund (JNF), that integrates young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society. Moshe was very happy for the opportunity to enlist as a volunteer. After a short process of evaluation and assessment by the professional team of the program, they decided to include Moshe in the program and he began a three-months course of life skills and occupational skills training.

On the pre-induction training program course, the soldiers are integrated into a variety of jobs as a part of the military manpower; Moshe asked to be part of the Army’s Fire crews, and is now serving in the IDF.

Guess what his job is? He is a firefighter on an Air Force base!