The other day I stumbled upon the mounds of email I sent to friends while I was in Israel on my gap year. I sent possibly the longest emails ever back then. Our computer access was limited, as not everyone carried their fancy laptops overseas, I hadn’t really heard of blogs back then, and it was the easiest way of letting people know what you got up to.
In the Jewish bubble, going to Israel is done by a lot of people, so it’s not so unique or interesting. But being in the big wide world, when people hear the things you’ve done – you sound rather impressive. So this is going to be a post dedicated to 2008, and the awesome things I did. (If I have the patience to read so much, I might even add some snippets from those emails! It’s kinda long, so I’m going to split it into 2 posts, gives you more to look forward to 😉
Where I worked with the cows 🙂 “We get given a pair of wellington type gumboots to wade through the cow-poo with. And i literally mean wade, it almost feels like moon-walking…or that’s how i take it anyway. Now u see, these animals are far from the brightest and are constantly either peeing or pooing wherever and whenever the hell the feel like it. While milking, and you’re a level below them, this can sometimes result in substances you’d’ rather have far away from you, all over you. Including your skin and in many a case for me – your face. Ive become accustomed to hearing the first plops before i cow decides to let its insides rip, which gives me enough time to move sufficiently out of its way so that i miss its gracious gifts”
This was my favourite part of my year in Israel. It was an 8-week army experience course. The first week consisted of us getting our uniforms and being disciplined about all the rules pertaining to it. Your shirt buttons all have to be done up, except for the top one [the same with your jacket, which may i add has its own special way of being folded up into the hood], your fugly floppy hat has to be worn at ALL all times [until 6pm that is]. Believe it or not there is a certain order in which u have to do push ups – kneel, remove your water bottle, remove your hat and then, only then, may you remove your gun and do push ups. You get up in the reverse order – and may not move an inch without your weapon on you! There is a certain order also in which u put on, take off and fold your vests and a way to hold your gun while wearing it and a way to wear your sleeves etc and even a way to tie your laces.
A Midrasha is a seminary, an institute of Religious Jewish learning for girls (well, I think that’s how you’d explain it). We start the morning with an hour long class at 9am after which we proceed with our next block from about 10 til lunch time at 12:30 [this might seem long, but it actually goes the quickest!! we have a 2 hour lunch break til 3 where we have more classes in the afternoons. Our evenings are filled with peulot, swimming & gymming, guest speakers & tea & torah. An end note: What would an email about midrasha be without mentioning the Shilshul epidemic. For those of you who do not know, Shilshul is Hebrew for diarrhea and it hit the girls – in a big way! Thankfully, I was one of few not affected!
We had 2 blocks of Machon, one after Midrasha and another later on in the year. Machon is some form of “leadership” training and stuff where we basically sit through really cool classes themed each week focusing on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity. MY absolute fav class was Modern Israeli Dilemmas. This course full on made my week!! In the first lesson we looked at graffiti around Jerusalem analysing it and who by and why it would be written, the next week we analysed the Declaration of Independence and then focused on Arab Israelis! A very interesting class!
It’s crazy to think that I did all this in only 6 months. I guess you’ll have to wait for the next post 🙂