Monday, September 18, 2017

  • Monday, September 18, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
After a too-long absence on these pages, Ziesel R. - the young woman originally from the US who joined the IDF as a lone soldier earlier this year - has resumed telling us her story.

After the most basic of basic training we started our Hebrew course. Thanks to a Yeshiva education I was in the higher level Hebrew course with kids of expatriate Israelis. Interestingly, while they had a good speaking vocabulary, the yeshiva kids were better at reading, writing and grammar.

Now came the time that was the topic of most conversation, occupied most of our thoughts and the source of our greatest anxiety. What would be our jobs in the army?

We each received a letter from the army. Actually it is a form. In military fashion it states your name and serial number at the top followed by a list of job possibilities. I’ve been told (but stand to be corrected) that it works like this: first different units look at the personnel file of each soldier to decide to make an offer, then the soldier rates the list of offers by preference, after which each unit picks the solders they want most who rated them most desirable.

Most soldiers receive about 10 offers. Lone soldiers, especially from English speaking countries, are known to do exceptionally well and many receive 20 or more possibilities. Not to brag but my parents would never forgive me if I didn’t mention that I received over 40 job offers.

For girls there is one job that is never on the list. Combat. There are opportunities for women but you have to apply at army headquarters and be accepted. Which means more anxious waiting.  In addition to the months of hard training a half year is added to enlistment. Besides I have some very interesting opportunities to consider.

I am now transitioning into the life of a combat soldier. I am a soldier in Aryot Hayarden (Lions of the Jordan Valley) which means for the next four months I will be doing intense combat training. The past couple weeks have been extremely draining mentally and physically.

Coming from a course with the majority being Lone Soldiers, I didn't realize how difficult it would be being with "real Israelis". It really hit me towards the end of my first full week. I stood exhausted on a Thursday afternoon after being in the shetach (field), on maneuvers, for three days, holding back tears. A wave of homesickness hit me. All the girls I'm training with get to go home to their parents tomorrow while I will be returning to my friends. Don't get me wrong - army friends are extremely important but it's not the same as returning to your mom's home-cooked Shabbat meal.

Although that moment was particularly hard for me, for the most part I've had an easy transition. Discipline in my Hebrew course was extremely difficult. My current combat training is relatively easy in comparison. However that is just in terms of discipline. Combat training is an extremely mentally and physically draining experience. I just finished my preparation period. There are two weeks for girls to get used to the transition before the boys come. So I know from here on out it will just get harder.

Something else that has been difficult for me in the transition of now being with Israelis is my confidence when speaking Hebrew. Although my last course helped my confidence tremendously it still takes courage speaking with native speakers. Sometimes I just feel like people will laugh at me if I mess up even though I know that probably won't actually happen. Sometimes the Israelis lack patience with me and would rather just tell me a word in English when their English is way worse than my Hebrew.

On Wednesday we got divided up into our official groups for the next four months. At first I was terrified I was all alone, the only English speaker, and didn't know anybody. However I realize now that this is going to be an advantage for me because my Hebrew will improve significantly. Beginnings are always difficult but I know I can handle it and I know that I'm willing to push for it because this is what I came to do. The girls that I'm with now are extremely sweet and caring. They all love asking me questions like "why are you here?" and "are you alone?" and "if you ever need anything please come to me."  I've already been invited to several Shabbat meals. Like I said every transition is difficult but I really think that I was put in a good place and I'm excited to move forward.

With that transition yesterday I had a short interview just like everybody else with my ממ (company commander).

He asked me about things that are difficult for me, being a lone soldier. I expressed to him that sometimes it's difficult and I just feel alone because I don't get to return to my family at the end of the week. He made it extremely clear to me that now I've entered into a new family and I will never be alone. It was a very comforting conversation and he really made me feel like I am part of something great and that this really is my new family.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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