By Rochelle Marshall, a 17-time VFI volunteer
My mother, Ida Marshall was working on tanks in Israel in 1983, after she was told she was too old to join the program. In those days Sar- El was only accepting volunteers who were 55 or younger.
My mother finally located the New York office — which was accessible only by using the fire escape from a tenement home. They yelled at her, “this is no joke, can you lift 60 pounds?” ‘No’, she replied, “but if you’re not in a hurry I can lift 30 pounds twice. And I will not leave this office until I am allowed to go!” Ida was 58 at the time.
She persisted and in 1983 was assigned to Camp Julis, a repair base for tanks, trucks and motorized vehicles in Southern Israel. There were really no facilities for volunteers in this old British base. Additionally, the daily rain, cold and mud made it uncomfortable. But she loved what she was doing and never complained. Quite the opposite, her stories upon her return convinced me and my son to continue the family tradition. As a result, I have been on the program 17 times.
Ida gave a talk to a Hadassah convention about the program. She explained that her job was to take the parts of the Russian tanks and clean off the rust and repaint them for use in Israeli tanks. She explained that even with a magnifying glass you could not find a drop of rust on anything she cleaned. A woman from the audience came up, hugged my mom and said, “Thank you for being so careful, my son is driving those tanks.”