This is a picture of my Garin. It was taken by a photographer and put in the local Golan newspaper. As you can see, I (pink t-shirt) jumped off a little bit too early compared to everyone else!!!
This is me (near left) in the Hadar Ochel (dining room) of the Kibbutz, with some of the other boys.
Most of the boys in an ice cold (seriously, ice cold) water spring near the Herman mountain, on one of our tiyuls (trips). I am third from left and don't ask me why I wore glasses on the day that we went swimming.
So I am now back at Kibbutz Ortal for the weekend after spending 5 days at the Gadna base in Jo'ara. Some may know Gadna from Fzy tours and those who do, would have heard that it is an annoying and an boring week. Israelis see Gadna as a chore, a week that doesn't prepare for the army (although it's aim is to try and give you an insight to army life) and, from what I've heard, all Israelis treat it as a joke.
Well, I am here to squash those rumours. Although it wasn't massively tiring, in terms of fitness, the constant discipline, packed conditions and army 'shtuyot' (senseless nonesense) made this week challenging. The whole of the my programme participated in this week, i.e. not just my European group of 19 people, but also 250 olim, mainly from USA. Being in a room the size of a box with 15, I repeat 15, other guys was extremely difficult. Every morning at 5.30am (wake up time!), the smell of feet and the sight of a bum in my face is just a taste of Gadna. From what I've learnt, amry conditions (while on a base) are better that they are on Gadna, but still, I now understand and appreciate the luxury of space.
The 5 days were very interesting though and I would have to say that, although some parts were hard, I had a really great week with some memorable moments and constant laughs. The day in the 'shetach' (outside) was exhilarating, as we were briefly taught lessons of camoflauge and grenade evasion. Also, the shetach has given me scratches from elbow to wrist on both arms from doing something called the 'Indian crawl'. On the last day, we shot M16s in a firing range, having been drilled with constant instructions and safety precautions for the 4 previous days. I felt surprisingly confident and in control once it came to my turn in the range. However, after 5 fierce bullets, I looked at embarrasment at my shooting sheet to find one single hole miles away from the target, the other 4 bullets were off target (the 5th may have even been an off target shot by the person shooting next to me - I don't think I am going to be a sniper in the army!)
Gadna also gave me those heart-pumping moments that epitomise my zionism. At both opening and closing ceremonies, standing in 'mizvar adom' (attention), facing the Israeli flag and singing the hatikva with hundreds of other 'nearly-soldiers' gave me that buzz. Also, to see and hear how other people on this programme are as passionate as I am about what we're doing, really assured me that Israel can continue to survive, and flourish.
In the closing ceremony, my 'mefaked' (commander) told me that I was very disciplined and that I would be a good soldier, which made me beam with confidence. Although this week has been tough, I feel confident that when it comes to the real thing in 2 and half months time (!), hopefully, my passion and determination will help me to get through the toughest challenge of my life.My favourite picture - My mefaked giving me my shoulder badges
My Garin, in line formation, just before our 'masa' (hike) - who is that, 3rd from right, holding the gun?!?
This week is back to normal, ulpan in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon. On Monday, though, we have our 'tsav rishon' (first draft) where we go through medical, psychotechnic and hebrew tests, which will give us a final score to determine where we are eligible for serving within the army. Assuming everything goes as expected, I should get an 82 medical profile (2nd highest, due to my vision), which would make me eligible to be 'kravi' (a fighter). But I will let you know what happens, wish me luck for the hebrew test as I need it. Shabbat Shalom.