Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Year Course - Young Judaeans Take Hatikvah

I was going to assault you all with a description of Year Course and how fabulous my daughter, Becky, and her YC friends are. We had 8 for dinner, Becky, her 6 roommates and a friend of Becky's from summer camp who is also on YC. In Becky's tiny house in the Hatikvah neighborhood of Tel Aviv (mostly lower class immigrant workers from Yemen and Russia), 7 spoiled kids, 6 from the suburbs and college towns of the US plus one Israeli Scout from North Tel Aviv, have to share a slum dwelling with one skuzzy bathroom and a kitchen ill-equipped for eating left over carry out ("take away" in this hemisphere). Young Judaeans have been trained for years to work as a group under onerous conditions (gets them ready to make Aliyah - the act of going up to Israel, of returning from the Diaspora). I think just making them live like this is worth the cost of the entire year. (I also thought the Chinese had the right idea when they forced professors and lawyers to shovel shit.) So what happened? Our kids became local folk heroes and have been having the time of their lives. Of course, doing volunteer work in local schools leaves them lots of time to discover Tel Aviv's 24/7 club scene (at 18+ these kids are all street legal). But rather than bore you with my ramblings I'm going to give you a treat and let you read Becky's description of where she is now and what she is going to do next.

So here's Becky:

Subject: The Next Three Months of My Life

Hello everyone!!!

sorry for such an extreme mass email, but this is definitely the quickest way to let everyone know what is going on!

so,its been probably about 3 months since the last mass email that i sent out. in those three months i can see that i have noticably changed. not only in the way i look (still tan...a little, more piercings) but in the way i experience the world. my hebrew is yoter tov (better) but not quite good enough. i can definately get my way around now, and i am still proud of myself when i can have a conversation with an israeli, all in broken hebrew. i am much more confident being on my own, and having my parents in israel with me now is a little strange because i am not used to being taken care of by real parents or having my favorite foods cooked for me the right way. i will have been in israel for exactly 3 months tomorrow, but it feels like its been a year already. and in 6 more days i will be leaving shchunat hatikvah, tel aviv and my wonderful apartment, and great roommates and new comfort zone, for something that i have never before experienced and probably never again will: The Israeli Army.

Yes, thats right. you may not be able to imagine me in uniform, with a gun, but i will send you pictures. On sunday i begin the first part of the Marva Program. The first week and a half we will be doing volunteering for the army in a program called Sar-El. Essentially we will be living on a base during the week, in full uniform, but scrubbing floors and cleaning dishes and shining boots. Doesnt sound like too much work, huh? After Sar-El we have winter break for 10 days (December 22-Jan 1- please tell me if you are going to be in israel during that time!!!!) and as soon break is over, on Jan 2, we get shipped down to an army base at Sde Boker, which is in the middle of the desert, where we begin Marva.

This is the basic itinerary for the program:
Week One: Introduction
This week will be spent in the home base of Sde Boker becoming familiar with army discipline and codes, learning first aid and topography and basic information about the IDF. In addition, participants will undergo weapons training during which they will learn how to use and M-16 rifle and at the end of th week they will experience their first shooting range and first march/hike(approx. 5 km/2.5 mi).
Week Two: Field Training
This week will be spent outside of the base in field conditions (no bathrooms or showers!) Participants will leanr how to be a soldier in the field through lessons on topics such as camouflage, ambushes, training exercises and survival training in both day and night.
Week Three: Negev Week
This week Marva moces from Sde Boker to the Youth Village of Nitzana. Throughout the week there will be a variety of activities in the Negev area including a visit to an infantry base, a joint exercise with the soldiers there, and intense walking and biking tours. At the end of the week Marva climbs Masada at sunrise.
Week Four: Navigation and Galilee/Golan Week
Marva stays at a bas in the north this week. Participants have the opportunity to implement what they have learned in topography lessons through day and night navigation in small groups. In addition there will be tours in the north of Israel.
Week Five: Sport
This week is spent on an army base. There, participants undergo intensive physical training including fitness, obstacle courses, seld-defense and more.
Week Six: Women in the Army/Infantry Week
During this week the men and women will be separate for the first and only time in the program.
Women: The week will be spent visiting several army bases and learning about the opportunities for the female soldier in the IDF.
Men: This week will be spent doing infantry training at a base in the South. Training includes learning to use heavy weaponry as well as group exercises.
Week Seven: Jerusalem Week
This week is spent learning about the three different religions in Jerusalem and exploring the old and new city.
Week Eight: Summation
This week is dedicated to ending the lessons and discussions, a final 22 km (about 12 mi) march and military graduation ceremony.

ok, thats it...i guess....im REALLY excited. i get nervous every once in a while when i think too much about, but i know it is going to be an incredible experience. we have off every other weekend so if you are going to be here after Jan 2, please let me know what dates you are going to be here and i will let you know whether it is an on or off base weekend.

i hope all is well with everyone!! wish me luck!!

all my love,

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