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Monday, April 7, 2014

Garin Tzabar Seminar 2 - Half Way There

Last weekend I attended the second (out of four) Garin Tzabar seminars. This seminar was held just north of Natanya. Unlike last time when I arrived at the pick up location where I knew nobody, this time I was excited to see everyone I hadn't seen for a month since the last seminar. There were a large number of new faces and once we were split into our different Garin's again, we were underway. 

This seminar largely focused on the Army itself but also yet again stressed the importance of building the groups dynamics. Our Garin had grown from around 18 to 28 people so it was important to bring the new folk into the loop and make them feel at home, in our already close-nit group. The first two sessions made one think about how they should be within the group and what roles allow the Garin to work cohesively. Making one think whether its better to act as a leader, dictator, team player and so on. Whilst this may seem somewhat menial and annoying, especially given that I have been on so many group programs i understand the importance of it and ultimately it ensures the Garin really is a place which allows everyone to feel comfortable within their own roles and allows people to excel and flourish how they need, with the support of the group. This isn't just a group anymore but it is slowly becoming a family, these are the people that will help me through what will be the toughest time of my life and I need to know they have my back just as much as any soldier in the field.  

The next session focused on the Tsav Rishon - the first encounter with the army where one is given his or her physical profile and Kaba. We learnt that the process takes a day and involves 4 different stations. One is a psychometric test, the other a personal evaluation and Hebrew Test, a medical check up and a personal interview (for men). We were taught the different profiles and what they mean, if you are interested, this is how it works. 

A Profile Of: 
  • 21 is unfit for service, 24 is temporarily unfit 
  • 45,64, and up is fit for service
  • 72,82,97 is fit for field service (a male with a profile of 72 or higher will automatically be in a fighting position, unless he is an only child) 
  • 82,97 is fit for infantry service and all elite units  
The Tsav Rishon can only be taken once and the score you receive cannot be changed. This prospect does scare me somewhat as my dream since a very young age has been to be a combat soldier. If for whatever reason I get a profile which does not allow me to do this I will really need to have a think about what role I would like to do within the army that would best utilise the skill sets I already have and help me to build others, perhaps something like Kishrei Chutz (Foreign Relations) could fit me well, I like to talk and people say I'm good at it! 

At the previous seminar, me and one other member of the garin called Eleanor, were asked to prepare an activity for our group. We spent a day planning it during the month and decided to plan ours based on 'The Amazing Race' TV show. We had a number of stations posted around the Kibbutz, we split our Garin into sub groups and had them 'race' to complete all the tasks. I think it went down well and everyone enjoyed it! After our activity was finished we had free time and a large number of us from our garin and the other garin sat together till late, having a laugh and bonding. 

The next day focused on military roles within the army. Many people tend to fall into the trap of just thinking about combat roles within the army but the actual fact is that combat soldiers only constitute around 20% of the total military. The other 80% is sometimes forgotten about, but yet is a key component to the military and without this group of people, the combat soldiers wouldn't be able to fight. During this lecture we learnt about a number of tafkidim (roles) within the army. The girls were told their options and the guys were told theirs but even this could not cover the vast amount of differing jobs which one can aim for. With Garin Tzabar you can draft to any unite you desire, (should you receive the needed profile) with only a few limitations - the main one being that you cant be at an open base. This means that you cannot serve in a base where you come home everyday - the reason for this being that you would most likely have a long way to travel from the kibbutz to base and back but also because you would find yourself largely living alone! 

Another useful session was held in the afternoon when we had a panel bogrim (Alumni). On the panel were all our seminar leaders who are all alumni of Garin Tzabar and a number of others who had come especially to share their experiences and part with their valuable knowledge which they had accumulated over their services. It was useful to speak to the two guys who were both lochamim (fighters), and the differences between their times in the army were good to hear. 

There seems to be a dichotomy between needing and wanting to speak to everyone you can who has 'been there and done it' in the hope you get that one bit of enlightening information but at the same time, sometimes its better to not ask at all and just learn on the way and not be swayed or influenced by other people, their experiences and most importantly their own opinions. Something my Grandpa also stated when I asked him for advice regarding my decision to join the army and make Aliyah. He didn't want to tell me what he thought I should do as he felt it wouldn't be fair to sway me one way or the other. Ultimately, this is my decision and the choices I make are the choices I need to live with and therefore, it should be mine and only mine. 

Speaking about choices I am proud to say that I am 95% certain that this is the move I will make. I have wanted this since I was a kid and the fire is still burning within. After all, if not now, when? This is really the last chance for me to ever do this and I feel that if i don't do this then I will regret it for the rest of my life. I am still trying to figure out how long I will serve whether it be 2, 2 and a half or 3 years (for an elite unit) but, whilst its not set it stone, I am fairly close to making this dream a reality. I think there is something empowering coming to this decision around Pesach time where we remember the Jewish peoples long walk to freedom out of Slavery from Egypt. Especially with the news which i read everyday, unfortunately, Israel and Jews are still under threat and their are people who still wish to harm us. I want to be a part of ensuring that our freedom is maintained and I know that will be something I think about as I sit down for seder with my family - who are coming out over the next week which I am very much looking forward to! 

For now, Happy and kosher Passover and I hope to write to you all with good news soon!!!

p.s. people have told me they have commented on posts but they don't seem to show up! If you have comments, questions or anything please don't hesitate to get in touch: or Ronen Feiner on facebook! 

Peace and Love : )  

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