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One Wide, but a Thousand Deep

November 6, 2011 – 9:07 am16 Comments

Image design: Kovi Rose

By Kovi Rose
When I decided to make aliyah, move from Australia to Israel, and join the army, I based my decision on several things. The immense feeling of belonging amongst the cultural history of my people weighed heavily on my mind, however the notion of having a better life socially and fiscally after maturing in the army made me feel as if my choice was the practical one; not the emotional path that many people assumed. Thus I mentally prepared myself for many of the pitfalls of Israel: the bureaucracy, the language, the economy, and even the theological and political arguments that every Israeli taxi driver demands. Seven months later I find myself looking back with a devilish hindsight that often lures me to ask myself whether I’ve perhaps dug myself a hole which is a metre wide but a kilometre deep.

After finishing my five-month ulpan course to learn Hebrew at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, I immediately joined the Garin Tzabar group at Kibbutz Lavi near Tiberias.

To briefly explain what it entails, Garin Tzabar – translated loosely as the public core – is a program that brings young olim (people who immigrate to Israel) from around the world together to live on a kibbutz for three months in preparation for the army. These lone soldiers are each adopted by a kibbutz family whom they will be able to come home to on weekends for the duration of their army service. This program is designed to help new olim through their army drafting process and to aid them in gaining access to tryouts for some of the more elite positions in the IDF.

Now, more than two months through the preparatory three before the army, I find myself with a list of cons but very few pros to counter them. Most of Garin Tzabar received a form to fill out their preferences for the army a month and a half ago; which, due to a clerical error in my tzav rishon (first draft day) Hebrew test, I never received. Shortly after that, most of Garin Tzabar received notification of which units were available to them, and subsequently several of people have already begun their service. This absurd error has had the effect of leaving me in a pre-army limbo, not knowing when or to where I will be recruited. Yet I am not the only one to be frustrated or disappointed. Many people who wanted infantry were forced into artillery; people who requested to be in the Air-force were told to go to the Navy, and some of those who had dreamt for years of serving in combat units in defence of Israel were told that they were unfit for such service and simply given desk-jobs.

If I were to complain about something that affected me more, it would be Garin Tzabar’s lack of follow-through on issues that they surmised to deal with. The program itself does wonderfully in providing us all a place to eat and sleep and be sociable, however it too often concerns itself with the semantics of having a perfect group who follows their rules. For example, having all signed a form with the programs rules before its commencement, we have recently been forced into signing a document with more rules which border on silly and unfair. This ranges from not being allowed to drink alcohol during the week, to being forbidden from wearing jeans on Shabbat.

In response to any small qualm they might have with one of us, the administrative staff frequently offers the thought that perhaps this isn’t the right place for us, something which I feel is hugely detrimental to the mindset of someone in such a position. In my opinion, they ought to support us with a focus on problem solving, before resorting to punishment and abandonment.

On a day-to-day basis I find myself anxious to start the army, move forward to a new challenge that will push me to my physical and psychological limits. In doing so, I could forget the stultifying bureaucracy of the army drafting process, and additionally the difficulties of Garin Tzabar. I simply pray that I find, contrary to the trend I have discovered in my lack of preparation for aliyah, that achievement and progress in the army are not beyond my reach.

Kovi Rose is a Mount Scopus graduate who made aliyah in March 2011. This is an entry for his aliyah journal that he is writing for Galus Australis.

When I decided to make aliyah, move to Israel, and join the army, I based my decision on several things. The immense feeling of belonging amongst the cultural history of my people weighed heavily on my mind, however the notion of having a better life socially and fiscally after maturing in the army made me feel as if my choice was the practical one; not the emotional path that many people assumed. Thus I mentally prepared myself for many of the pitfalls of Israel: the bureaucracy, the language, the economy, and even the theological and political arguments that every Israeli taxi driver demands. Seven months later I find myself looking back with a devilish hindsight that often lures me to ask myself whether I’ve perhaps dug myself a hole which is a metre wide but a kilometre deep.

After finishing my five-month ulpan course to learn Hebrew at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, I immediately joined the Garin Tzabar group at Kibbutz Lavi near Tiberias.

To briefly explain what it entails, Garin Tzabar - translated loosely as the public core – is a program that brings young olim (people who immigrate to Israel) from around the world together to live on a kibbutz for three months in preparation for the army. These lone soldiers are each adopted by a kibbutz family whom they will be able to come home to on weekends for the duration of their army service. This program is designed to help new olim through their army drafting process and to aid them in gaining access to tryouts for some of the more elite positions in the IDF.

Now, more than two months through the preparatory three before the army, I find myself with a list of cons but very few pros to counter them. Most of Garin Tzabar received a form to fill out their preferences for the army a month and a half ago; which, due to a clerical error in my tzav rishon (first draft day) Hebrew test, I never received. Shortly after that, most of Garin Tzabar received notification of which units were available to them, and subsequently several of people have already begun their service. This absurd error has had the effect of leaving me in a pre-army limbo, not knowing when or to where I will be recruited. Yet I am not the only one to be frustrated or disappointed. Many people who wanted infantry were forced into artillery; people who requested to be in the Air-force were told to go to the Navy, and some of those who had dreamt for years of serving in combat units in defence of Israel were told that they were unfit for such service and simply given desk-jobs.

If I were to complain about something that affected me more, it would be Garin Tzabar’s lack of follow-through on issues that they surmised to deal with. The program itself does wonderfully in providing us all a place to eat and sleep and be sociable, however it too often concerns itself with the semantics of having a perfect group who follows their rules. For example, having all signed a form with the programs rules before its commencement, we have recently been forced into signing a document with more rules which border on silly and unfair. This ranges from not being allowed to drink alcohol during the week, to being forbidden from wearing jeans on Shabbat.

In response to any small qualm they might have with one of us, the administrative staff frequently offers the thought that perhaps this isn’t the right place for us, something which I feel is hugely detrimental to the mindset of someone in such a position. In my opinion, they ought to support us with a focus on problem solving, before resorting to punishment and abandonment.

 

On a day-to-day basis I find myself anxious to start the army, move forward to a new challenge that will push me to my physical and psychological limits. In doing so, I could forget the stultifying bureaucracy of the army drafting process, and additionally the difficulties of Garin Tzabar. I simply pray that I find, contrary to the trend I have discovered in my lack of preparation for aliyah, that achievement and progress in the army are not beyond my reach.

One Wide, But a Thousand Deep

When I decided to make aliyah, move to Israel, and join the army, I based my decision on several things. The immense feeling of belonging amongst the cultural history of my people weighed heavily on my mind, however the notion of having a better life socially and fiscally after maturing in the army made me feel as if my choice was the practical one; not the emotional path that many people assumed. Thus I mentally prepared myself for many of the pitfalls of Israel: the bureaucracy, the language, the economy, and even the theological and political arguments that every Israeli taxi driver demands. Seven months later I find myself looking back with a devilish hindsight that often lures me to ask myself whether I’ve perhaps dug myself a hole which is a metre wide but a kilometre deep.

After finishing my five-month ulpan course to learn Hebrew at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, I immediately joined the Garin Tzabar group at Kibbutz Lavi near Tiberias.

To briefly explain what it entails, Garin Tzabar – translated loosely as the public core – is a program that brings young olim (people who immigrate to Israel) from around the world together to live on a kibbutz for three months in preparation for the army. These lone soldiers are each adopted by a kibbutz family whom they will be able to come home to on weekends for the duration of their army service. This program is designed to help new olim through their army drafting process and to aid them in gaining access to tryouts for some of the more elite positions in the IDF.

Now, more than two months through the preparatory three before the army, I find myself with a list of cons but very few pros to counter them. Most of Garin Tzabar received a form to fill out their preferences for the army a month and a half ago; which, due to a clerical error in my tzav rishon (first draft day) Hebrew test, I never received. Shortly after that, most of Garin Tzabar received notification of which units were available to them, and subsequently several of people have already begun their service. This absurd error has had the effect of leaving me in a pre-army limbo, not knowing when or to where I will be recruited. Yet I am not the only one to be frustrated or disappointed. Many people who wanted infantry were forced into artillery; people who requested to be in the Air-force were told to go to the Navy, and some of those who had dreamt for years of serving in combat units in defence of Israel were told that they were unfit for such service and simply given desk-jobs.

If I were to complain about something that affected me more, it would be Garin Tzabar’s lack of follow-through on issues that they surmised to deal with. The program itself does wonderfully in providing us all a place to eat and sleep and be sociable, however it too often concerns itself with the semantics of having a perfect group who follows their rules. For example, having all signed a form with the programs rules before its commencement, we have recently been forced into signing a document with more rules which border on silly and unfair. This ranges from not being allowed to drink alcohol during the week, to being forbidden from wearing jeans on Shabbat.

In response to any small qualm they might have with one of us, the administrative staff frequently offers the thought that perhaps this isn’t the right place for us, something which I feel is hugely detrimental to the mindset of someone in such a position. In my opinion, they ought to support us with a focus on problem solving, before resorting to punishment and abandonment.

On a day-to-day basis I find myself anxious to start the army, move forward to a new challenge that will push me to my physical and psychological limits. In doing so, I could forget the stultifying bureaucracy of the army drafting process, and additionally the difficulties of Garin Tzabar. I simply pray that I find, contrary to the trend I have discovered in my lack of preparation for aliyah, that achievement and progress in the army are not beyond my reach.

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