After finishing basic training, I’m finally doing what I came for at the base where I’ve served this whole time: learning Hebrew. The days are easier now, even though they are very similar to my tironot (basic training) days. We still run from place to place, but we’re given more time to get there. We still have just 15 minutes to eat at every meal, but that was always more than enough time for me.
What changed is that now we must be outside in formation at the same time, every day. At 6:30 in the morning we are formed up outside. We then clean our barracks, shave, polish our shoes, etc, for which we are given four minutes. We then proceed to raise the Israeli flag in the presence of our entire battalion (130 men).
As a soldier, I do take a lot of pride from this simple exercise. Though, I think its lame that we do it without any musical accompaniment. Then again, we sing Hatikva as the flag flies, and that feels pretty good too.
Then we’re off to breakfast. The army feeds us dairy at breakfast and dinner, mainly because they want us to poop a lot. Or at least that’s what I think they want, because that’s what happens. Chocolate milk, “Choco” as Israelis lovingly call it, is nothing but liquid laxative.
I’ve long since stopped eating the dairy.
After that, we go to our group classroom where the eleven of us will sit from 9am to 8pm. We get ten minute breaks every 40-45 minutes. The day goes by fast like that, and Hebrew isn’t tough to learn. I spent my entire life in a classroom, so the military context in my current classroom is quite refreshing.
Twice a week we do “sport” at night after class, meaning we exercise, run a few kilometers, freeze, etc. Other nights we are given a class in Zionism, which is the perfect class for me to practice my Hebrew because I’ve got lots to say then! This class taught a lot of the guys in my group something other than Zionism, something I learned earlier, that the army was made to give out sanctions.
What about Fight terrorism? Win wars? What about the things the army can’t talk about? Yes, the army does that too. But mainly, it exists to annoy its soldiers with sanctions. The army hands those out like hot cakes. Example:
Our commander is teaching about Theodore Herzl during the Zionism class, she is just starting when her phone receives a text. She reads the message, looks at us in an awkward pause, then picks out one of us and takes him outside. The door is open, and the conversation is loud, we hear everything inside.
Commander: “X, did you go to the store today?” (We aren’t allowed to go to the store unless our commander takes us there).
X: “No, commander”.
Commander: “A commander says they saw you went to the store today.”
We on the inside are confused, there is no way he could have gone since he was stuck with us the whole day in that classroom.
X: “I didn’t go to the store, commander. Which commander?!”
Commander: “A commander. You have a sanction.”
Some arguing occurs, but in the end, X has to swallow his sanction or he’ll get another one for refusing orders or some bull like that.
X walks into the classroom after the commander. He’s in such shock, he’s laughing. We in the classroom try to help him “Commander he didn’t go to the store” but the subject is not one we can return to.
The commander then reaches the Dreifus Affair, which turned Theodore Herzl into a Zionist and the father of Israel. The commander asked “Who knows what this was about”, I raised my hand and explained this was about a false accusation placed against a Jewish officer in the French military some time after the French-German war. The commander then went on with the course, as I interrupted, “similar to X”.
Behind me sat my lieutenant, so it was not a particularly good time to be a wise ass. But the injustice was felt by all of us. The commander answered “Yes, like X”.
“You have a sanction…Just kidding.”
Our commander purposely ruined X’s night, just to show what Dreifuss must have felt like? He wasn’t actually given a sanction, the whole thing was shtick! Yet his whole night was ruined, regardless. Seriously, do you think X learned anything about Herzl or Dreifuss that night? I’m just happy we weren’t learning about the Holocaust, I’d hate to be the one to undress, do hard labor, get beaten, and then placed under a gas shower only to seconds before be told “Just kidding. Did you learn something?”
Times like this I wonder if its wise to have commanders that are so young. I mean, really, I’m older than all of them.
Tomorrow will be the second week of the course, and I already feel like I learned a lot. I’m starting to like my service, which is something I expect will change again when I am reassigned after this is all over.
This week I earned a nickname from the guys in my group: “Wolf”. Why? I’m hungry like a wolf.
Funniest thing of the week:
A buddy in my group was unable to make himself clear in Hebrew to my commander. She kept insisting that he must have signed for his bet uniform, even though he didn’t receive it. While he was unable to explain how it is that he never signed for it anyway. After many failed attempts, he desperately offered to do push ups and leave the matter of the signature behind him.
“I’ll do pushups!” He said with a desperate face.
The commander, at this point, broke down laughing, a soldier just offered to do push ups. She walked away hiding her face, laughing.