Return from Gadna

February 26, 2010

Returning to heavy rain at Kibbutz Tzuba holds some symbolism for me–a fresh start to studying for the upcoming exams and a new appreciation for the nature that the rain brings to the Judean Hills.  The Gadna base at Sde Boker in the desert near Be’er Sheva had palm trees dotting the perimeter, but was far from paradise.  The experience of taking orders from “mafakedet”s and “MM”s, shooting and cleaning an M-16, and serving food to the camp in a mess hall is memorable, and has affirmed my respect for Israelis and members of the armed services in the United States.  However, I also know now that I would not enjoy being in the army for 2 years, after five days living  in a spartan tent, with limited access to toilet paper, soap, healthy food, and quiet.

I was nervous to shoot a gun, but I’m glad I did it,  just so I could see what it was like.  I got 3 out of 10 bullets on my target, and the kickback didn’t hurt my armpit!  The day before we shot the guns, the group learned the names of the parts of the gun, the commands that we would be given (in Hebrew), and how to take apart some of the gun.  On the last day, as a “reward,” our group cleaned the entire gun, which was covered with a smelly solvent, with newspaper and a cloth.

We also had one day of training in the “shetach,” which was a big open space in the desert.  We learned what to do if an enemy was spotted, how to camouflage ourselves, and how to protect ourselves from a grenade.  It was nice to have some team bonding activities, including the kitchen duty, where we served food and cleaned the dining hall and kitchen all morning.  We learned some discipline, and experienced the consequences of not following directions (pol sheva=7 pushups!)  We also learned the importance of communication:  our commanders spoke to us in Hebrew, and we usually had to translate directions into English, Spanish, and sometimes Russian or Portuguese.  Sometimes the directions were lost in translation, but we had fun anyway!

It’s good to be back on the Kibbutz- last night I chose my costume for the Purim party which is tonight.  I’m looking forward to the holiday!


One comment

  1. Sounds like you had a good experience. I finally caught up on your pictures yesterday! How cool!

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