This recent graduate of Israel’s rigorous flight academy is a proud, religiously observant Jewish woman of color.
“Join us in saluting the men and women who just finished 3 years of intensive training in the Israeli Air Force Flight Academy and received their wings. Congratulations!” reads the tweet from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
“Lt. T.” is among the graduates of the latest IAF pilot course, identified only by her first initial for security reasons.
“I thought that the pilot’s course would be impossible, but I realized that with hard work and internal drive, you can go far,” she commented after graduating.
Not only is Lt. T. a woman, she is a religious Jew and a person of color, reflecting the rich cultural tapestry that comprises the Jewish state.
On the occasion of her graduation, she was interviewed by Channel 12 TV, explaining that her father moved to Israel from the Ivory Coast and her mother from France.
She finished the course as a flight engineer on a cargo plane, the only woman among 40 graduates.
“I’m not the classic religious woman,” she commented, adding that religious observance is one dimension of who she is. Many Orthodox women do not serve in the military, carrying out national service, which entails serving Israeli society in a civilian manner.
“I like the challenge. It’s important to me that I be in a place that is not comfortable for me, that is not easy for me, where I have to work in order to achieve,” she told Channel 12.
It’s not the “external characteristics” which make a difference, but who you are from within, she says.
In 1993, Israel’s High Court of Justice handed down a ruling that enshrined the right of every Israeli woman to enter the IAF pilot program.