Posts Tagged ‘Bakum’

So now, I know I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger last time – but ya know my fingers were getting tired of typing and I was in the mood for a bit of Facebooking. That being said, I left you off on the question of “What is Bakum?”.

Bakum is a base that all new soldiers are sent to outside of Tel Aviv to get poked and prodded for hours on end. We’ll get immunizations and we’ll get uniforms. We’ll get dog tags and ID cards. We’ll get pushed this way and that by other impatient new soldiers and have no idea what’s going on because it will likely all be in Hebrew. That being said – this could all be a lie, most of what I know about the IDF is from reading online at various sites along with word of mouth from others.

I have idea’s of what to expect but in the back of my mind, I know to expect the unexpected. This is not just the army (something I’ve never experienced before), but also an army in another country. I know enough Hebrew to order my falafel or shawarma with all the stuff I like on it… agvaniot, betzal, salat, chips, ketzat chareef etc. etc. (tomatoes, onions, salad, fries, and a little spicy); but let’s be serious – ordering lunch and preparing yourself for the army are two completely different ball games!

Apparently we’ll be provided with a large duffel bag and we’ll be filling it with tons of stuff the army gives us. Assorted clothing such as T-shirts, underwear and socks to personal items such as a toiletry kit. I’ll have to carry around all this stuff in addition to my large bag that I already have. And as of right now I’m still homeless. Thankfully I should be moving into a place next time I have off.

Tzvika who I sort of introduced you to in my last post has set up a place for me to live on a kibbutz in the North called “Beit Keshet“. The name literally means “House of the Arrow”, not sure how much more bad ass that could get… OH WAIT, it gets seriously more bad ass! Beit Keshet was founded by Palmach members. Palmach was the original special forces unit of the Haganah – the underground Jewish fighting force before Israel’s independence in 1948. I hope the kibbutz is as cool as it sounds, but we’ll see, I’ll be taking it all day by day.

Beit Keshet is about 45 minutes away from my friends kibbutz, and it’s quite a bit further away from the bigger cities of Israel, but I guess that doesn’t really matter considering I’ll probably just want to sleep and watch movies on my time off. That being said, if anyone wants to donate a computer to me, that would be fantastic. I’m writing this entry on my friend Adam’s laptop, but after this one, I will likely have to resort to my iPhone for typing up entries slowly but surely. Hopefully I’ll be able to get all my things in order in the next week or two. I still need to straighten out some details of my cell phone that I just got as well as make sure that my Israeli bank account is functioning the way it’s supposed to.

My payments from the army are supposed to be direct deposit into my bank account so that should be nice once those start rolling in. Unfortunately as of right now I have no way of accessing any money from that account because I still don’t have a bank card! I will need to go to Tel Aviv to pick up my card at some point. I’m less nervous about the army now, and more so just stressed about taking care of everything in an orderly fashion. When I do have time off, it will usually be off on the weekend, which is when everything is closed. I will likely have to request an afternoon off from the army to take care of personal matters (which I’m allowed from time to time thankfully). Right now I’m off to have a glass or two of wine, shower and shave, pack up my things and get ready for tomorrow morning.

Thank you to everyone who has been sending me well wishes and keeping me in their thoughts. I’m sure not everyone understands or agrees with what I’m doing. Hell, I don’t even understand it myself sometimes. All I know is what I’ve said before in another blog post:

I Love you all, and if any of you are wondering why I’m out here doing what I’m doing it’s because when I’m old, gray and wrinkled on my death bed, I’d like to be able to utter these two sentences:

“I’ve been there and I’ve done that.
I’ve seen more than most and experienced life to its fullest.”

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It’s two days before I have to report to the bus station that will eventually take me to Bakum. Now obviously unless you have some sort of odd knowledge of the Israeli army system, or you’ve done this before – you have no idea what Bakum is. So let’s start with a quick rundown of how my army paperwork has gone so far:

  1. I spoke with a man who helps Lone Soldiers – his name is Tzvika. He gave me some pointers on what I should be doing to get into the army.
  2. I got a letter from my Rabbi proving I’m Jewish, I got a letter from my doctor at home saying I’m in good general health and I got a hold of my original birth certificate.
  3. Had a meeting with a guy at the MoD (Ministry of Defense) named Yuval. He gave me a few more pointers which were generally the same as what Tzvika told me.
  4. I took my letter from my Rabbi, my passport and my birth certificate and brought it to the Jewish Agency. There they copied everything and said I should hear back in a few days. As is the case with most offices in Israel, when they say they’ll call – they won’t. I went into the office a week later and asked what was going on, I told them I wasn’t leaving until they fixed it. They had winded up losing all my paperwork and I had to recopy everything. I sat and watched them until they finished my paperwork – with all the signatures and stamps it needed. That’s how you get work done, make them do it.
  5. From the Jewish Agency I took my proof of “Jewishness” and went to the Ministry of Immigration and got myself a fancy sticker in my passport. Isn’t it pretty?

    not sure If I'm supposed to post this? EDIT: removed image (decided it wasn't the best idea...)

  6. Now that I had proof that I’m allowed to stay in the country for two years I headed back to Yuval at the MoD and gave him EVERYTHING I had gathered, including my letter from my doctor saying I’m nice and healthy.
  7. From here Yuval was great, he worked behind the scenes and got everything ready.
  8. I went into the Lishkat Gius (Enlistment Office) in Haifa and had a medical examination, Hebrew test and IQ test. This is called “Tzav Rishon” or “First Order”.
  9. A week after my tests I went into the Lishkat Gius one more time to essentially wait in line three hours just to sign one piece of paper. I’m not even sure why I had to go, but anyway that was a “fun” waste of a day.
  10. From here I went home for 2 weeks and proceeded to miss a few phone calls from the army (oops?). Also while I was away I received a letter in the mail telling me my enlistment date. Eventually when I got back, I got in contact with the army and made another appointment (which I went to today). And so, without further ado this is where I am:

    rain at kfar masaryk

    flooding at kfar masaryk

It’s been raining for days and it’s disgustingly cold, for Israel that is. Everyone here loves it, not sure when the last time they saw rain was, so I guess it’s understandable. Through all of it I trudged through the rain puddles, pushed myself through the blistering wind and eventually, soaked, I made it back to the Lishkat Gius.

Instead of waiting for hours like last time I was here, I only waiting five minutes or so. On top of that I got to sit and talk with a very cute Israeli girl. She took me through some basic info and had me sign a few more papers as well as talk to her about where I’d like to live on my time off. I’m trying to stay on a kibbutz that some of my friends are on, and so hopefully they can make that happen. While waiting for a phone call to come in to confirm some info for me we wrote notes to each other, I wrote her one in Hebrew, and she wrote me one in English:

note

I think we're a match made in heaven.

And so today was a pretty good day. I made it to my friends kibbutz safe and sound. After napping, relaxing, eating and watching a movie I feel good and back in the groove of things. I still need to get a cell phone at some point, but that will be taken care of soon hopefully. And so now when you thought I forgot about it, onto Bakum.

I’ll tell you about Bakum tomorrow. BAZINGA!