Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Israeli soldier finds peace in the piano…

A story about goodness, caring for the sick with music in your heart

                                                   by Nancy Snipper

Y.L (name changed for article) looks back at her days as a soldier in the Israeli army with relief. She no longer has to wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare for daily training and tactics which included, parachuting out of planes and running an hour once a week supporting a 10-pound backpack full of  explosives, food and water.
Because she studied nursing (one of her passions) prior to doing her military service at the age of 18, she was assigned round the clock nursing duties. Tending to the wounded and the sick took place when she was not taking to the skies or patrolling on land.
“I learned a lot during my obligatory service which lasted one year and nine months. It was long though, and I was glad when it was over. But I made lifelong friends. You can’t beat the camaraderie in the army, and believe it or not, I really miss the food. You really get well fed there. I think the Israeli army makes the best shak-shuka in the world.”
Because difficult days of conflict stared her in the face, she found a way to offset the intensity of it all: she took solace in the piano During her bi-monthly weekend army breaks, she would stay at her home in Ashdod – a 50-minute drive from Tel Aviv.  She always headed for the piano first thing upon entering the apartment and hugging her family.
“I first started studying piano when I was seven in Moldova. I lived there until I was 13. I went to music school there every day after regular school. For three hours, my time was taken up with piano performance and theory. Then when she moved to Israel, the first thing her parents bought the young teen was a new grand piano.
It became her outlet for dealing with the challenges of learning a new language, trying to make friends and fitting in. Even the food was foreign to her palate. Although Jewish, she had never practiced her religion.
“I felt alone. The piano was my friend; I used to talk to it in Russian. Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bach were my best friends.”
Her new life opened up when she began teaching other Russian immigrants piano at an immigrant centre. She developed a virtuoso reputation, but despite her parents wish for their daughter to go pro, she refused to tour. She always felt nursing was her calling. “You know, I often met very sick people, and I would come home and instead of crying, I would pour out my feelings in the piano. I also wanted to take care of all sick people
“Of course, I loved playing my Ruga grand piano in Moldova and in Israel I played a brand new Krasnii Okaibre – better than a Steinway I think.”
“You have to be tough and unemotional in the army, but with the piano, emotion is everything.”