Thursday, 15 July 2010

Leaving Base

For the last eight months I have been based at the Tzanchanim training base, but yesterday was my last day there and it was hard not to feel a little nostalgic. So, for this blog I wanted to sum up my time in the army so far, especially since I start a new part of my service from this Sunday.

On November 25th 2009, it all started. Although I had already officially been a soldier a month beforehand, this was my first day in the army and I remember arriving at the tzanchanim base and being in complete shock by the experience. When people go to a new school or a new place of work, there is always a feeling of nervousness and being clueless about how things work. But for me, starting school for the first time was nothing compared to that day, yes I was much older than when I started school, but imagine being in an army base for the first time, seeing people walking around with guns and suddenly being shouted at every minute in a language I wasn't comfortable with. Now, as I say goodbye to the base, I walk out of there as a king; with the red kumta on my shoulder, the wings on my chest and having conquered the shetach of the base in War Week.

The Plooga - where I was living for the last eight months.

There have been some really hard moments so far in the army; both physically and mentally. I can remember the early moments of being in the army when I was really struggling with the language, finding the army lifestyle too hard to handle and missing my parents a lot. Missing my parents has obviously been one of the hardest things to deal with in the army, having to go from 'skyping' every day to not speaking to them for a week while I was in the shetach, was a big change. In terms of physical pain, anyone who goes through 'kravi' (combat) basic training in the IDF can understand what I'm about to explain:

1) Being cold - nothing can ever come close to that weekend I had in Hebron, where we were forced to do guard duty on a roof of a Palestinian home in the miserable rain and blistering cold. Eventually, it was so cold that we went inside and the six of us cuddled up on the cold, rock hard stairs.

2) Being hot - during War Week we ended up walking just 1 kilometre during an 'Omes Hom Hamesh' (the highest heat level where you're not allowed to do anything physical). We walked for half an hour in the middle of the day, in order to get to a certain point before the afternoon. I've never been so hot in my life and I remember my eyes stinging so much from the buckets of sweat dropping off my helmet-covered head.

3) Complete freedom/fear - the undescribable first five seconds after jumping out of an aeroplane. That's the time it takes for the canopy of the parachute to open, so for around 40m you free-fall! See

4) Pain - being in 'matsav kriya' (the kneeled shooting position) for over an hour. Not even the satisfaction of breaking the base record could take away the unbearable pain in my ankle. See

5) Complete exhaustion/tiredness - the aftermath of the masa kumta was something I've never experienced before in my life. From the soles of my feet, where a layer of skin had come off, to chafing all across my stomach and back, to my extremely sore shoulders. Only a week and a half after the masa, did I feel fully back to normal strength.

That weekend in Hebron - chaos, rain and freezing temperatures but I still managed a smile!!!

These feelings are just some of the many that I've passed in my time in the army but I know that it's all just part of the game and that everyone around me went through it as well. So I've now left base, where apart from all the difficulties, I've had some exciting, fun and hilarious moments and I will keep some fond memories. This video was the video were shown on our last night of advanced training, it basically sums up everything we've done!/video/video.php?v=1381372856927&ref=mf.

In the next blog, I will explain the next step...

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