“Dad would be proud”
One for all and all for one’ can get pretty absurd,” the late Jerusalem Post staffer and columnist Sam Orbaum wrote about his identical triplet daughters 14 years ago. Orbaum, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 46, went on in the column, entitled “The threeness of it all,” to describe life as a father of identical triplets. Not only did he sometimes mix them up, Orbaum wrote in his well-known wry, comic style, but he was also constantly impressed by their tight bond – when for example they stood up for one another in fights in the school sandbox.
The three blond 19-year-old sisters are still sticking up for one another, although this time not on the playground but in the IAF, in which they all enlisted a few months ago, making history. While all three are in khaki-colored air force uniforms, they don’t serve together. Odelia, the oldest (born a minute before her two sisters), serves as a control officer in the IAF’s underground command-and-control center in the Kirya in Tel Aviv; Nomi is an air traffic control officer at the IAF’s Palmahim Base; and Donna is currently in training for a different IAF position near Herzliya. “Even though we are, in a sense, still together since we are all in the IAF, it was still difficult to split up to different positions and offices,” said Odelia.
The sisters say that they think of themselves as one person, which might not make sense – until one sees how they complete one another’s sentences or give the same answers during the interview. Since elementary school the three have been together, going on to the same high school in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood and then to the same premilitary academy in the Jordan Valley. It was there that the triplets decided to enlist in the IDF and not do national service like most of their female classmates. “As religious girls we were confused about what to do,” said Nomi. “But [we] decided to enlist into the IDF since national service, like working in an old age home, is something we can always do after our military service, but military service is right now. [It’s] the only time we can do it and is what characterizes the state.”
Once they made their decision, all they had left was to find fulfilling jobs in the IDF. Donna said she thought about trying out for the pilot’s course; Nomi thought at one point about joining the Ground Forces Command and becoming an infantry instructor. In the end, they all made their way to the air force, albeit on different bases. “We didn’t all decide to joint the IAF,” explained Odelia. “That is just how it worked out.” Nomi, the self-declared “controlling” sister, said that becoming an air traffic controller fit in very well with her personality. “I usually make the decisions so becoming an air traffic controller was natural,” she said.
While the three are not currently together, they all plan on becoming officers and hope to be in the same course at the Bahad 1 Officer Training School near Mitzpe Ramon in a few months. If that doesn’t work out, there’s always the post-IDF trip overseas, which they have no doubt they will make together. The girls also don’t doubt that their father would have supported their decision to join the army. When Sam came to Israel he tried to enlist, they said, but he was exempted on medical grounds. “He supported us in everything we did until he passed away when we were 12,” Donna said. “This is the seventh year since he passed away and I think about him all the time and see his smile and know that he would have been proud of us.”