Posts Tagged ‘Hebrew’

“Wow, what did I get myself into?!?!” “Why am I doing this to myself again?” “My muscles are searing in pain, my lungs are on fire, WHY?!?!?!” “run faster… you’re being a little girl!” “BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER!” “JUST DO IT!”

Those are just a few of the things that were going through my mind as I was at the gibbush (tryout) for Tzanchanim (paratroopers). There were doubts in my mind, my body hurt – but it made me feel alive. I’m here, once again at my girlfriends writing a blog, but this time I’m enjoying writing about my experience because it was a truly interesting one. One that I won’t forget, and I’ll surely remember when I’m being pounded on for 3 months through basic training (and then even longer through advanced training). I’ll remember because this is what I asked for and what I came here for. Training to make myself better, training to make myself physically and mentally stronger than the average human. I’ve always considered myself a pretty average joe, but always working toward improvement (that could be a whole blog by itself so I’m gonna stop now).

The gibbush took place at Bakum, the same place I was my first day in the army. It’s a base for all the new people in the army, as well as a type of sorting ground for people going to new units. We arrived around 8-9am after sitting on the bus from Mikveh Alon for around 2 1/2 hours, not really sure why it took so long – army busses are slow… always. The first day at the gibbush seemed like a big joke, we got there and were split into groups and were told to start cleaning dishes in the kitchen… seriously? I thought I came here to test my physical and mental aptitude for an elite group of paratroopers in the Israeli Army??? Oh well, I guess I’ll scrub the living hell out of that plate… and the next one… and the next one. While washing plates, utensils and other cookware, we clearly got a bit tired of the tedious work and started screwing around a bit. Luckily the guy in charge of us was all for it and we all ended up pretty wet in the kitchen.
A delicious lunch (Bakum food is amazing… and that really is not sarcasm), and some hours of usual army waiting around later, we eventually got around to changing into sports clothes. We were about to be doing our “Barour” (a basic test of physical strength). While there we found out that they wouldn’t be including the pushups and situps portion of the test, just the run. I didn’t like that very much because I can easily max out the 75 pushups and 86 situps required, where as my running ability is a bit lacking compared to some other peoples. Oh well, I guess I’d just have to put everything into the run.

The run was 2km – the same as what we had practiced at Mikveh Alon the week prior, this time however it was on rolling dirt, gravel and sand hills – oh ok. I knew it would be a little harder than running on a nice paved road, but also knew I needed to run faster. I was shooting for around the same time I had gotten on my first attempt (7:47) so I ran behind the same guy I did at Mikveh. Igor is quite a bit faster than me in long hauls so I knew I’d need to push myself. The first kilometer went easy enough, hardly a strained breath at all. The next half kilometer I was sweating and pushing myself, but it wasn’t until the last 500 meters that I really started to feel myself breaking. Igor began to pull ahead one stride at a time, but I didn’t put too much thought into it – just thought “keep on running”. I struggled to make myself sprint the last 100 meters or so but to no avail, I felt as if I was still moving the same speed.

I stopped my watch and told the register table the number written on my arm so they could record my official time. By my watch I had gotten 7:54, a bit slower than my previous attempt but good enough for me as I saw plenty of other people lagging behind. I was happy with my time considering I was still under 8 minutes and it was a much rougher course. For the rest of the day we didn’t seem to do much, just ate and wasted some time. We went to sleep extremely early and were told we would be need to be outside our tents in uniform at 3:30AM. Oh, so I guess that’s the time when I was going to start hating myself right?

After sleeping in my uniform, since we had heard we might get woken up in the middle of the night (we didn’t), I arose to a chilly and dark dawn of the day. We waited in formation for our mefaked (commander) for nearly half an hour… someone must of overslept – and it wasn’t us. First things first – chug your entire water bottle. 3/4 of a liter? No prob, I used to do this with beer in college every weekend. Yum, stale water out of an old plastic canteen. They say it’s to prevent against dehydration during the day, I guess we’ll be working out? Next was to take off our undershirts – bare skin against uniform. They say it’s to prevent against heat stroke during the day, I guess we’ll be working out hard?

We go to a meeting area where everyone else is, and eventually get re-split up into smaller, different tzvatim (groups) of about 20 people each. It seemed like almost everyone in my tzevet was from Mikveh Alon, I guess they wanted to keep the coloring book kids together? We received two jerry cans of water, a stretcher and a few back packs. We also each received tags for our uniforms that identified us with a number. Although I remember what we did and mostly in what order the details after this won’t be exact because my mind sort of just went somewhere else for a couple hours…

We stretched for a while with our mefaked and did a few short warm up laps around the perimeter of the area we were in. A decent enough warm up, but the sun still wasn’t out so it wasn’t like I was sweating from it. We were told to pick up a sand bag from the pile on the side and walk with the mefakdeem, at this point 4 other guys had joined our head mefaked. I immediately noticed that the sand bags were no where near even. Some looked to weigh around 50 pounds, while others couldn’t have been more than 15 – if this was on purpose or not, I’m still unsure. As we were walking the sun began to spread some light over the terrain we were going over. We passed a few other tzevet’s and eventually got to our area we’d be calling home for the next hour or so. We placed everything down on the side, and the mefaked had me place a sandbag about 35 meters (a hundred feet or so) up hill from where we were standing. Shloshoht! (lines of three) He said a bit in Hebrew that I wasn’t really paying attention to, and then said to run there and back in 14 seconds… GO! And we ran. And ran. And ran again. Every time we’d get back he’d say to run again. In the beginning we’d have 5-10 seconds between each run. After a while, it was just get back and run again. We were doing this for around 20 minutes. Then they added an interested variable into the equation… the stretcher. The stretcher filled with 7 sandbags.

Now every time we returned from the run we would have to run another time, unless you were one of the “lucky” first four people. The first four would be running again, but with the stretcher on their shoulders. Although It doesn’t sound good, it is good if you’re carrying the stretcher, because that means you were first, you were standing out, and the mefakdeem would be writing down your number. We did this for around another 20 minutes. I got the stretcher twice, not as many times as some people, but more than many. I had a secret…

Although I was working hard this whole time, I wasn’t putting in 100%… probably closer to 80%. Some of the “sprints” were more of a run for me, not a full out sprint. I was still gasping for air, but not like a lot of the people were. I knew we were going to have a lot in front of us so I didn’t want to kill myself in the first hour. Whether the mefakdeem noticed or not, I’m unsure – but It was fine with me because I had energy for later.

Next we would be holding sandbags over our heads. I unfortunately grabbed one of the bags that was closer to 50 pounds. Normally this is something that is very easy for me since I used to work out a lot with weights, but I guess it’s been a while.  I completely failed during this part of the gibbush. I was the second or third person to drop the bag from above my head and was told to stand in the center of everyone there. I had to put the bag back up, and I kept on dropping it – but every time I hoisted it back up. If I was gonna fail, I was gonna fail trying.

We put the bags aside and ran a few more times. Then we got the bags again… This time I made sure to get a little lighter bag and didn’t drop it once. It was a much shorter amount of time than the first but still made me feel a little better about my battered self esteem.

Almost done? Not even close. We set our water bottles down, oh yea, by the way, we were sprinting with full water bottles in our hands this whole time. Full because we weren’t allowed to drink from them. With water bottles aside, we were told we would be crawling up the hill to the point we had run before. YES, something I’m good at! Army crawling, for whatever reason, I’ve always been good at. I was in first or second every time we crawled… which was around 5 times. Just a warm up for later.

At some point when we were there we had a group discussion about whether we thought women should be allowed in combat roles. Positives/Negatives, that sort of thing. My opinion is that it was for two reasons; 1. To give us a 5-10 minute break. 2. To see how we think under stress. Sorry if things get a bit mixed up in the time line, The gibbush was over a week ago at this point (this blog was written at two different times).

We moved all of our things (stretcher, canteens, sand bags…) to another area to the side. The mefaked had us draw a star of david and then a paratroopers logo on the ground out of whatever we could find. Team work, leadership, creativity were things that came to my mind for why we would be doing this. In the same area was also a big wall, a log, a barrel, and a tire. There was an area of “mines” we weren’t allowed to go in and had to get everyone over the wall with just the log, barrel and tire. Again – team work, leadership and creativity. Interesting stuff, reminded me of scout camp when I was younger…

From here we jogged over to an area with a rectangular bar over head. We all had to face outward with our eyes closed and hang from the bar. The mefakdeem would jump to make it sound like someone else near us had dropped. Eventually I remember being patted on the shoulder by one of the mefakdeem and being told I could get down… I looked around and everyone was down already… oops? We ran to a nearby fence and this time faced each other hanging from the bar. And ran, and hung,  repeat over and over. We were allowed to have 3 people not hang at a time, I hung the whole time. Spit in my grip, a constant stare forwards and I didn’t move once. I was getting into the zone at this point, they couldn’t break me.

Next we jogged over to another area of sandy hills. CRAWL! I don’t know for how long we crawled, but up and down the hills we went, over and over again. My obliques were searing in pain like I have never felt before. Eventually I just stared at the sand below me and kept pushing, I looked down to know I was moving because It didn’t feel like I was. I came in 2nd nearly every time after this guy named Chaim. I may have been in second, but I was crawling low to the ground in proper form… he was crawling high and on his knee’s – he would have been shot if it was for real. This went on for ages. Getting to the top of a hill was such a relief, because then you would have 15-20 seconds of easier crawling/sliding down hill, until the next hellish hill.

When we finished crawling we had another discussion, this time about money in professional sports. All in Hebrew, and a random topic to think about after you’ve been in the middle of no where crawling on the ground for 30-45 minutes. Afterward we picked up all our gear and were to be going on a masa (trek/journey). It only ended up being around 2km, for me it was a nice cool down, for others it seemed like it was a little harder. We ended up back where we had started the day. Our mefaked congratulated us, told us to drink a lot of water, and told us to go with the midrachah (girl guide). We stretched for a while with her and were eventually released.

We had time to shower and relax for a little while before our interviews. The interview was interesting, and wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It was more of me talking than them asking questions. Two officers sitting in front of me writing things down, once in a while asking a question. They asked things such as “What did you do before the army?, Why are you in Israel?, Why the army?, Why do you want to be in Tzanchanim?, Would you be interested in Sayeret? (special forces), Would you be interested in officer school?” I won’t write down all my answers, I’ll leave that for you to wonder about 😉

We helped clean up the base for a couple hours and had a late lunch. Eventually we were on the bus back to Mikveh Alon again. Everyone slept.

Showcase tank at the Entrance/Exit of Bakum


I didn’t find out until this Monday, exactly a week later but… I MADE IT! I was 1 of 3 in my whole machlakah, 1 of 11 in my pluga and 1 of 19 out of all of Mikveh Alon! About 1/3 of the people who went to the gibbush made it. I’m really happy about it and we’ll see what it means for me in the future. So long as they don’t make me sign for more time in the army, I’ll be in Tzanchanim after this Sunday. It’s gonna be a while, but I can’t wait for my tag, red koomta (beret) and paratrooper wings!

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Our Testeem

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Mikveh Alon
Tags: , , , , , ,

As usual I want this blog to be short, but it will likely end up being longer than I originally expect it to be because I’ll slowly remember what we did this week as I type. At this point I despise when I know I need to/should (you know there isn’t a word for “should” in hebrew?) write a blog, especially right now.

I’m laying in bed with my girl watching the Big Lebowski… BREAKING NEWS: she just said she want’s to play Resident Evil on playstation with me… seriously, she gets more awesome every day. She listens to Guns & Roses and Pink Floyd. She watches family guy, two and a half men, 30 rock and the big bang theory. What is going on… stop kissing me… this isn’t fair.

Let me stop for a second and excuse my blog for being terrible this week – it’s Rotem’s fault. But Rotem is also being great and letting me write this in the first place so let’s all give her a round of applause. ::clap, clap, clap::

The title of this entry has nothing to do with genitalia – although I’ll admit, being in the army has forced me to see more penis’ than I’ve ever wanted to see. From Bear’s casual drop of his towel for no reason, to this kid Ben’s massive penis… I digress. I don’t know where I was going with that. Testeem is actually what the commanders call our tests, it’s always hilarious when they attempt to translate an english word into hebrew. The real word for test is “Meevchan” but for us stupid kids at Mikveh Alon, they say testeem.

We had our Hebrew test this week to see how we’ve progressed in the course as well as a physical called a “barour”. I think I did okay on the Hebrew test, not “mooshlam” (perfect) but good enough. I spoke very well, but royally screwed up the reading and writing part. oh well. It’s ok because I destroyed the physical. 80 pushups, 86 situps and I ran the 2km in 7:47. BAM!

Here’s a “quickie” about this weekend –  I started off in my kibbutz, went to Tel Aviv with my adopted family to see a flamenco show, saw my good friend Edan who may be joining the army as well? Went to Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk to see my friend Liana who extended her birthright trip a whole week just to see me! Today (Saturday), Rotem picked me up from the kibbutz and I had dinner with her at her house. Tomorrow it’s back to the army…

I have my gibbush (tryout) for Tzanchanim (paratroopers) on Monday and my Teckas (ceremony) for the end of Mikveh Alon on Wednesday. BARUCH HASHEM!!! (praise g-d… for you non-jewsers out there) I’m so glad this course is finally over and I get to go to the “real” army.

Well, I could have written more but I’m seriously getting distracted by all the awesome things going on around me… playstations, family guys and a certain girl laying next to me.

Peace out guys and gals, till next time.

It’s been two weeks on base. It’s Saturday night at 9pm. I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow. I don’t want to write this blog.

That being said, here goes an extremely quick recount of the past two weeks that hopefully I will be able to elaborate upon next week. If I don’t have time… sorry, it’s just one of those things that will be stuck in my memory for me to enjoy reminiscing about.

Again, that being said, my headphones are lost and/or stolen. I annoyed everyone for the whole week about it. Sorry tzevet chamesh (unit 5), I just really don’t like losing things. We did shmeera (guard duty) for the first time, it’s not half bad. If you do it with someone else you get to talk to them for 2 hours, if you do it by yourself, you get to talk to yourself for 2 hours…

We’ve all, especially me, begun to get fed up with our mefakdot (commanders). They’re 18-19 year old little girls. They seriously don’t know how to do their jobs half the time, plus we’ve realized that they have very little power over us unless we do something really bad. If we do something dumb, it’s just pushups or running – which at this point I need to do anyway (dad, if  you’re reading this, I just fixed “anyways” to “anyway” – thanks for always yelling at me for that!) to workout for my gibbush (tryout) for tzanchaneem (paratroopers). Gibbush Tzanchaneem is 8 days away and I’m excited and a little nervous about it. Until then I’m working out and continuing the stupidity that Mikveh Alon has turned into.

Buffoons

Since we’ve gotten bored of everything we tediously do throughout the day we find little things to jazz up the place. Two weeks ago it was us leading up to “ehser shniot” (10 seconds) by yelling “eeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHSER shneeoht”. Now this past week I made up “EXTREME SHNEEOHT!”. Twenty Seconds in Hebrew is “Esreem sneeoht”, so it was obviously the next logical step of buffoonery for us to take. We got yelled at by our Somelet (platoon leader) for both of them… onto find out the next thing to annoy them with…

We went to Jerusalem – it was cool. I could write a lot about it, but I’m not going to now. We went on two “Masoht” (journeys/hikes). I’m also not going to write about those.

The Kotel

Top of Mount Arbel... Our second Masa

We have a test coming up this week to determine our level of Hebrew. Great idea for the army to test us after we haven’t had classes for about a week right? I thought so. Dumbasses. Everyone I spoke to about Mikveh said this time would come, and I’m saying it now, I’m not very happy with Mikveh Alon at this point. It’s like second semester senior year, I just want out and I don’t care how I act anymore.

It’s not all bad though, Mikveh Alon is almost over. Soon I’ll be in the “real” army getting my ass beat by my real commanders. Oddly enough that isn’t supposed to be sarcastic, I really am looking forward to the real army. I’ve got a girl by my side, a great adopted family and everything in Israel is at it’s greenest. Life is good, but nevertheless, fuck you Mikveh Alon.

There are a TON of new pics from the past two weeks, so check them out on the Lone Soldier Flickr Page. Pictures will have to tell the thousands of words I didn’t feel like typing this week. The Lone Soldier Facebook Page always tells the quick anecdotes I don’t have time for here, so become a fan over there!

p.s. Hebrew word of the day: מדהים – Madheem – (Awesome!)

p.s.s. I just looked back at my Flickr pictures and realized how much I did in the past two weeks…

The Then.

So I haven’t updated for 2 weeks again… and it’s due to two factors, one I won’t discuss because I’m not jinxing shit at this point – the other is Jersey Shore. I’m watching it right now while I’m writing, and if there is one way to feel at home and hate home at the same time – it’s watching Jersey Shore. There’s no better way to spend a weekend than to culture bash Guido’s.

Last weekend I watched about 10 episodes of Jersey Shore with Adam and Steph, fittingly this week in the Army was full of Adam making stupid references to the Shoooore. I’ve now acquired Mike from the show’s nickname… “The Situation“. What can I say, I’m sorry I don’t have the body of a 12 year old like you Adam. If this entry has a lot of cursing and terrible grammar, don’t blame me, blame the Shore.

I try to take notes throughout the week to  remember what to write about, but most of that usually get’s mixed up with my other Hebrew notes. In the  end I get a mixture of important Hebrew words I should know and dumb anecdote’s about things that most people just won’t understand. Being in the army is a combination of an N.R.A. sleep away camp, a fraternity and a club for masochists. We’ve got guns, make stupid immature jokes, and enjoy the pain of wind sprints and push ups.

Most of us have come to the realization that while in “Course Evrit” (Hebrew class’) we get to do one fun thing a week. Last week it was Krav Maga, and this week it was watching some guy drive around in an Armored Personnel Carrier. While seeing the A.P.C. in action was cool, Krav Maga totally kicked it’s balls. We learned a couple moves, and practiced on our makeshift punching bags made out of our army bag filled with our sleeping bag. Fun times,  I hope we’ll have another class this week – probably not though, they tend to keep the fun down and the learning up.

Armored Personal Carrier... I forgot the name in Hebrew...

The past two weeks tons of fighter jets and helicopters have been flying over head, pretty crazy stuff. I always ask my Hebrew teacher “Efshar, Ani tzareech lelechet leshuruteem” (If possible, I need to go to the bathroom), which for me actually means “Can I go outside and giddily watch the jets flying over head?”  I couldn’t get a picture of the helicopters, but here’s a decent shot of one of the jets:

F-16 flying overhead... This photo does it no justice...

How I wish I was born with perfect eyes and could fly a jet. Speaking of which, this week I had the pleasure of having some disgusting infection in my “eyein” – seriously, that’s how you say eye in Hebrew. Basically I had “zombie eye sickness” for half the week and had to wear my glasses. I probably got it from constantly dutch ovening my self at night. What can I say, the food doesn’t agree with me and I sleep in a sleeping bag. I refuse to provide a link for “dutch oven”, you can google at your own risk. After a combination of conventional medicine (the kind that works) and my adopted mother’s crazy herbal remedies (the kind that maybe work), I now have perfectly normal, functioning “eyeineem” again…Normal in that I’m still blind without glasses or contacts.

The Now.

Time has been flying by and instead of counting our days till our weekends off we’ve been counting meals. Our schedule is very predictable and very much the same every day (once in a while we’ll have something different – rare and very appreciated). Wake up at 5. Waste time cleaning and making Chet’s (a simple formation) until breakfast at 7:30ish. Learn Hebrew till lunch time at 12:30. Learn more Hebrew and/or some random stuff about Israel until Dinner at 6:30ish. Learn some more, run, and do push ups because we messed something up. Have an hour to an hour and a half of Shetash (break). Go to sleep around 10-11. Rinse, Reuse and Repeat.

One thing I look forward to every Friday is the Mefakedetohts (women commanders) in Aleph (dress) uniform. When the only women you see all week long are wearing gross, baggy Bet (secondary) uniforms, it sure is nice to see a tight uniform at the end of the week. My standards in women have dropped significantly since I’ve gotten into the army, but thankfully I don’t need to worry about that right now. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, I’m not mentioning that because I’m not jinxing shit at this point. Maybe next week/entry I’ll mention it. That’s supposed to be confusing, so just say “huh?” and continue reading.

This coming week I get off on Wednesday! what what!! I can’t wait to have more than a day and a half off! I need to go to the bank to see if the lazy army has paid me yet and take care of some other errands so I’m really looking forwards to Yom Siddureem (our extra day off). I’m officially off the US Dollar and I sure hope I have some Schmeckels in my Israeli piggy bank to spend on some Goldstar for the weekend.

Today I went for a random trip with my adopted family up to the Golan Heights. We stopped at Kibbutz Naot Mordechai, home of my adopted mom’s brother’s family (my uncle?) and the Naot factory. It was weird winding up there since I had been there 2 1/2 years ago with Birthright/Taglit… not much has changed, they still make shoes. After that we continued up, and up, and up into the mountains and stopped at a couple places along the way. As I feel like I’ve done every week, It’s time to cut this blog awkwardly short. I gotta finish up watching Jersey Shore now so I’m  just gonna leave you with some pretty pictures… remember you can always see more pictures on my Flickr Page.

P.S. I do feel bad about cutting this blog short, I’ll make it up. Pinky swear! hopefully next weekend I’ll have some shenanigans to write about…