Dear Parents, Sniffim, Shanties. Shalom Rav,
This week Israel wept, it shed tears of sadness remembering the 22993 Israelis who died while serving our country as soldiers and as civilians. It also shed tears of joy celebrating Israelis 64th birthday and it doesn’t really matter if you are right wing or left wing or central wing, if you agree with Israel’s government actions or not, if you think that the settlers are doing a heroic job or if we should not have settlers whatsoever, if the army should protect the settlers or not, the fact remains that it is children who do the army and too many have died, Israelis who at the age of 18 instead of going on a gap year they are asked to serve to protect and enlist in a 3 year program in what I think is the biggest youth movement, the IDF.
Growing up in Venezuela, going to a Jewish school, we would have more than one ceremony for the fallen soldiers, one at school, one at the Jewish Federation building, one with the youth movement, and would also say a prayer the Friday of that same week at the synagogue. Our hearts would ache when we would hear the news of a bomb exploding in Israel and we believed we were feeling the same pain that the Israelis were felling, however something was missing and I did not quite know what until I actually made Alyah in 1997.
I enlisted in the army in February 2000 and when I called my father to tell him, here I am looking over the Lebanese border it dawned on him, for the first time one of those Israeli soldiers not only had a face but it was the face of his own son. And this is what was missing all time at those ceremonies, we thought we had solidarity with the Israeli soldiers but we had never met one, there really was no face to remember.
My father being the Rabbi for the Venezuelan community had to officiate many funerals and I remember as a small child who always wanted to go where his father went, that I wanted to accompany him even to these funerals, and he always said that a funeral is no place for a child. Boy, did I sure make up for this in the army.
I started my basic training in March 2000 for a tank battalion, not month went by and already one of the soldiers in our platoon committed suicide. I lost 6 more friends in a matter of a month. A group of terrorist opened fire on a bus and my 3 of my friends hopped on a tank and set out to help those civilians, when it drove over a bomb placed by those terrorist prior to their attack on the bus. We woke up a month latter and started getting ready to go the Shloshim for those 3 friends when the same thing happened all over again. We had to attend 3 more funerals on our way to the 3 Shloshim.
This past Tuesday, on Yom Tnua, we tried hard to give the shnatties the sense of feeling of what is Yom Hazikaron here in Israel, we finished the day by going to a ceremony sponsored by MASA that was very moving and really got them in the atmosphere.
This evening our shnatties will experience something that in my point of view can only be experienced in Israel, and that is the switch from sadness to happiness when we welcome Israel’s Independence Day. There is dancing, singing, cheering, and the popular Israeli singers give free performances in central squares.
I want to finish this weeks report with a poem written by Rodrigo Soliz, the singer Fernando Delgadillo composed music to these words. The poem is written to their froend that died in a traffic accident. I heard this poem for the first time when I was on Shnat and it stuck with since.
I did my best to translate it from Spanish to English.
“Suplica” – “Beg”
And if I told you, Miguel
That I haven’t missed you,
That I didn’t care that you left
That I haven’t felt anger,
That I haven’t felt shame,
That your death was only one more way
For me to appreciate my life with double the efforts.
That I did not cry at your grave,
If I told you!
That I haven’t felt lost,
That I did not suffer
More so, if I said, just to give an example
That in a way I am glad that you died.
That way, you won’t go with me anymore,
Making me lose my time by talking bombs and politics.
If I told you my friend,
That I think you are quite stupid
For dying on a beautiful night,
That you lost your pose, when you fell
On the sidewalk, with a motorcycle in your legs,
And splitting your head.
If I told you my life
Continues to de a happy one,
That Pink Floyd sucks and the
World still goes around,
That we still party
That the shame does not stop us
If I told you,
If I screamed at you!
That I like the girlfriend you left behind
That I have seen your sister and
I like her as well
And that you are a bastard for making them cry
Tell me, Miguel
If I seriously meant
Every word I have said
Would that make you leave your grave?
Because, if so,
Rest assure, I will say them!
Have a Shabbat shalom,
Weekly report by Kathryn H. (Etgar)
08h30 – Commander K and Commander R were summoned to the Head Cadet’s
quarters for a meeting of the utmost importance. We were given a task: Operation
Chayelim shel Etgar. And thus the NDF (Netzer Defense Force) was formed.
09h00 – Espionage.
The soldiers undertook an intensive communications course to understand and
infiltrate Israeli society, through language and communications devices.
1130 – First Aid.
In field medical training, because we all know even the strongest of soldiers can get
16h30 – Intelligence.
In order to better understand the mission, we were given information from a legend
called The Tanak. We studied ancient battles like David and Goliath to improve our
own fighting skills.
19h00 – Rations.
20h31 – Moving Out
The troops were late; we as commanders feared the worst. A rough start to the
operation. The mission was finally revealed but we lost a few good men out there.
24h28 – Refueling
Our ration packs are running low, only ice cream, Sour Patch Kids, tea, cookies, and
pasta are to be found. We don’t know if we’ll make it to the end of the week. There
is a cold shiver in both the trees and our minds as we wait for the dawn to come. The leaves rustle as they echo our biggest worry: D'o the troops have what it takes?
On the day of April 23, 2012 at 06h00, the troops awoke. Dressed in uniform, they
trekked downstairs, out of base camp, across the wilderness that is Jerusalem, onto
the tram, and into the bus station. To keep up spirits, we gave the men some free
time to buy provisions. Colonel Noa met us and directed us onto our transport: the
bus to Tel Aviv.
A massive staircase tested our endurance, but we finally arrived at our destination:
Beit Kfustot at Tel Aviv University. There we learned briefly about Diaspora Jewry,
and then we discussed how what we were told actually fits in to what we know
to be true. After, the troops were dismissed. A large majority opted to go back to
base camp, but the commanders and two soldiers (Naomi and Emily) stayed back to
spend our off-time at the beach.
Mission Chof B'shemesh was a failure from the start. From having to climb those
treacherous stairs once more to falling asleep on the bus, we started off on the
wrong foot. When we perplexedly arrived in Bat Yam, we replenished ourselves
with King Falafel but decided we had to move on.
On the bus back to Tel Aviv, we laughed about the situation, but little did we know
that was only the beginning. Naomi and Emily departed on a new journey,
leaving the commanders on their own.
To describe what happened that day would take much more time than is available.
In addition, most of it is Top Secret anyway. The information that I have been
approved to tell is this:
We started at Savidor Train Station in Tel Aviv. We walked literally the entirety of
Tel Aviv looking for the bus station, and ended up finding ourselves at Azrieli. We
refueled with ice cream there, and moved on. Our troops had left us, and us them,
and we desperately needed to return. We called for backup, but they wouldn’t
arrive soon enough to help us.
We managed to arrange transport to a destination and rode the top deck of the
train to Savidor. When we saw the bus leaving from our location to base camp, we
Once back in our general area, we realized we needed to get back as soon as possible
and took a private transport service to base camp. Much sleep was needed to
prepare ourselves for the day that was to come.
The troops were back, somewhat rested after the prevous days challenges and ready to learn. They knew their intelegence training was important. The country and their fellow soldiers lives depended on it.
13h0- Lunch. Having restocked the supples the day before, the troops had a hearty lunch that will hopefully keep them healthy as we continue our mission. We don't know when we'll be able to have fresh provsions again.
Combat Training. The troops set out for their Combat Training of the Mind course lead by one of the Comanders in Cheif. The troops debated extensivly about Zionism and Aliyah Nimchechet. The comander was impressed and promised the troops a reprise from their mission the following night. Something they had all been waiting for. As with most things in the NDF, this too is Top Secret.
At 14h00 the troops set off for the Kiryat Moriah Base for a debriefing with the Colonal. The troops held a small Yom Ha Zikaron Tekes, and then were transported to the Offical Tekes by MASA in Litrum. The occasion was solomn and the bus ride home less than excitable. We hope this expirence has taught us all to really understand the significance of rememberance.
We hope the troops have enough strength to make it through the rest of th week.
Yeshar Koach. May you have strength.
The troops were sombre as we made our way to the Memorial Ceremony at Har Hertzl the morning of Yom Ha Zikaron. They stoood on a crowded bus in silence as the many Soldiers and Officers passed them by. The siren sounded at precisly 11h00 and an entire nation stood at attention. The troops were given free time to comemorate with the families of the fallen soldiers and friends they knew from far away.
13h00- Lunch for the troops. A secret mission to pick up supplies from sources that cannot be identified due to NDF polocy was embarked upon by the Comanders K and R. The troops were mildly disgruntled because they were not for told of this spontanious mission.
Aproximatly 14h30- The commandes lay in wat for the tirade of ammunition about to be hurled at them from their officers. Their Colonal was no where to be found.
We consider this opperation to have failed, and the NDF will be disbanded by the time the fireworks start for Yom ha' atz' maut (Independence Day).
Signing off, for the last time, Comanders Kathryn H. and Rebekkah K. If you hear this message, please help.
Am Yisrael Chai.
Weekly report by Benjy (Machon)
From Yom Hashoa to Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut
This week is arguably the most polarizing week in all of Israel. It begins with Yom Hashoa, Holocaust remembrance day in Israel. On this day, Israel stops for 1 minute to the sound of a siren. 2 Aussie shanties describe the experience as eerie and powerful, “it felt like the whole world had stopped.” A week later is Yom Hazikaron, a day to remember fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror. As one of the most serious days of the year, you can feel the somberness in the air. Everyone in Israel has been affected by the army and is either related to or knows of a victim of war or terror. This sad state will immediately transition to a party craze once night has officially fallen. This is because Yom Ha’atzmaut will have started, Israel’s independence day. It has been a mentally tough week that will end with our eyes to future of Israel and its independence.
New Machon Classes
In other news, since we have completed half of machon some of our classes our finished and we started new classes this week. A new elective, Judasim, and on sudnays an activity called open house. All the classes have started off well and we are excited to begin analyzing our new subjects.