Finally Some Pictures!!!!

Most of these pictures are so old. But I want to publish them anyway. I really have been lagging on posting photos. All the natures pictures I took around the land outside the kibbutz. This really is an amazing landscape.

This is Charlie the little dog of my boss. He is so cute and gets so much love. One funny thing though, is a volunteer from Korea was petting him one day and said, "In Korea, we eat dogs like this. They delicious!"

Horse in the petting zoo for the Kibbutz kids.

Pictures form Purim. Check out the old couple. I thought they were sooooo cute!!!

There is the snake in my toliet I was promising!

I took a picture of the sign because I thought the Arabic spelling of En HaShofet was so beautiful.

Picture of someones yard on the 'butz

I found this picture from so long ago at Simcha Torah. This is Roie, Iris, and I. Do you think we had to much to drink?

And this one I love. This was taken two months ago right before Iris left to go back to Holland.

No Pictures!! Sorry

I am at my friends house right now. I was able to load my writing to the net, but not the pictures. I think because the writing is a PC program and the pictures are from mac, I'm not sure.

Anyway, all my love and hope to have some great pictures and stories when I return on Tuesday.

TTFN ta ta for now.
Ok, so I have had a few days to process Gadna, and now it is time to say a few words. The thing about it, is it wasn’t that it was grueling or really horrible; but it did scare me a little about doing the army. I do know that this part of boot camp life will be for only anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months at the most. I will explain.

If Israeli bureaucracy is a crazy and well, a bureaucratic cake, then the army is the whip cream on top. For instance when we arrived to the army base, we sat outside for two hours while all the other groups went in. Why? Because we were supposed to have 2 people come from the kibbutz to make sure everything is ok for the week; we had one lady. Basically she gets a week vacation and has to show her face a few times a day so she can make sure we are all alive. So we sat and waited while all the other groups went in and got started. All we needed was a fax from a government agency but we waited. Finally 2 hours later we got the clearance and went in.

The army base is Tzalamon base in the north about a 2-hour bus ride away from out kibbutz. It was really beautiful. We were in the mountains with all rolling hills. When the weather was clear you could see the Kinneret. There were all these Arab towns around. It was so beautiful to see their villages coming down the mountains. At night they were really special. There was quite a mix of Arab, Christian, Muslim, and Druze villages. There was one small Jewish town.

On one of our exercises outside the base our high commander told us about the geography. As we stood on a mountain looking at everything he pointed out all the towns. He told us that there was a mini-Intefada in this area, when the Second Intifata broke out. He said now there is peace with the neighbors and the number of non-Jews that volunteer for the army is growing every year. Interestingly enough, at the end of the week, or sergeant told us that commander is Bedouin, and didn’t we notice his accent was different. That was something great to see. You can be a minority and still rise in the army.

So back to the beginning. We finally get the bus inside and our Mifa-ked-et (sergeant in Hebrew) greets us with yelling. Get off the bus, stand in this certain was. All that blah blah blah. Of course the blah blah blah is in Hebrew. I can tell you that after this week I can understand so much more. Also when people speak to me in Hebrew I don’t have to tell then to slow down as much because she yelled so fast. We did have two people designated as translators, one English, one Russia. But at times of course there was no time to translate.

We went to an area and got uniforms. Now for anyone who has not had an army experience everything is timed. Go from po (here) to sham (there) in blank seconds. You say, “move” in the command form in Hebrew: zoo-zoo. So can’t you see this: groups of kids running around “Yes Commander. 20 seconds.” In some ways if felt that that was what the whole week was.

After we all changed into our uniforms we lined back up and went to our rooms to dump our luggage. Some of the girls brought SO much stuff. Its not like we had to have so much, just underwear, socks and t-shirts. I brought my sleeping bag. I was really glad I did because army blankets are so scratchy and God only knows the last time they were ever washed.

In a lot of ways this army experience felt like it was really about preparing us to shoot the M-16 at the end. We did have days with lectures on the army (all in Hebrew remember). We also had times where we went on drills outside. On the first night we went for a run outside in the dark rocky fields. But some how you don’t feel so bad having to run, when the officers are running with their guns and first aid gear.

Once we went up to this mountain and put dirt on our faces and leaves in our hair and ran around crawling on our stomachs. On the way there I had to carry the radio pack on my back. I was up front and had to keep up with the officer. Then on the way down I carried the jerry can of water. That was at least twice as heavy. And we took turns carrying a girl on a stretcher. It was pretty hard to hold the water and the stretcher. But all this stuff, just made me think, “OK, Elizabeth, the real army will be much harder.”

The little interaction that I had with Israelis that were on the Gadna also scared me a bit. There was one bathroom for all the girls. And at night we had an hour to get ready for bed. None of the showers had curtains. And these girls would stand and ask us to hurry up, staring at us naked, even when there were 4 more showers they could use. When they finally took their shower they wore bathing suits! And these are the same girls that were plastering on make-up at 4: 30 a.m. So they looked like really mature and worldly creatures, but in truth they were just a bunch of 16 and 17 year old kids. So this scared me a bit, because I am not 17. When I enter to the army I will be 23, which is pretty old.

The good thing was, although they looked really tough and bitchy; they were really nice when you talked to them. They call Israelis sabras, which is a kind of cactus fruit. Because Israelis are hard on the outside, but once you break that, they are soft and delicious on the inside. This one girl who had been giving me dirty looks ever since we came, sat next to me one day and we started to talk. Turns out her mom is Canadian and she lives in Benyamina, which is right next to my old kibbutz. She told me how hard she is trying to loose her Israeli accent when she speaks in English.

Or sergeant turned out to be really nice. On the first day, one guy from our group didn’t get any clothes that fit and he was standing in the cold with shorts and a t-shirt freezing. Finally he called her over and said: Look, either you get me something to wear or I am going to go back to the room. And she answered him in almost perfect American accented English. A few of us started to try to guess where she was from. At the end of the week she told us about her self. Her mother was American and she was born in Texas but her family moved back to Israel when she was one. She told her mom about us, that we were new immigrant and had no family and her mom told her to give us her number and if we were in the Tel Aviv area to call. It was really nice. She was very nice and very helpful at getting us the information we needed.

It was really fun to shoot the gun. It was also a bit scary. I have shot rifles before at my grandpa’s farm. But shooting the
M-16 is very different. There is much more power in this weapon. It was very loud on the shooting range. We wore ear protection. I did OK most of my bullets were near the center. Some people did excellent. This Russian couple were both trained in shooting and they did amazing. But some people who had never shot before did really good too.

The food was actually not that bad. The breakfast was a real disappointment. The hard-boiled eggs oozed this gray liquid and the vegetables looked beat. But lunch and dinner were eatable. The worst thing about the food to me was the fact that you have to hurry. I am such a slow eater. It really gives me a stomachache to eat fast, especially when I am hungry. One morning we worked in the kitchen. I had a lot of fun. It really reminded me of the time I spend on the army base with Sar-El the first time I came to Israel. I think everyone actually had a pretty good time with it.

I guess I could talk for forever, but I won’t. It was an interesting time and I learned a lot. The most important thing I learned was I have to find out about what job I will be doing in the army. If I wait to long and don’t push, I could get put in a really bad desk job or something stupid like guarding storage containers in the dessert. So this is the biggest project I have after I come back from Holland.

The pictures are such a mix and I have waited way to long to post anything. The nature pictures I took 2 weeks ago. I went on a walk with Noa around the kibbutz.

The snake in the toilet is …..well, a snake in the toilet.

I was a cowgirl for Purim. And there are pictures with other friends. Noa was a Hari Krishna.

And of course I will have so many pictures to post when I get back from Holland. It is a strange time in the life of my family. Mom and Hugh are moving right now. So is Jonathan and Ben will be traveling for his birthday.

If there is an emergency, I am bringing my cell phone. 972-052-3795332.

Hugs and kisses. I will be back on Tuesday the 28. I will try to post from there, but no promises. I hope it will be a good week for everyone.

Time Keeps On Slippin' Into The Future

How, when it feels like I am doing almost nothing, do I not have the time to post every few days. I have picture and a story I have been writing about Gadna, but somehow??? The pictures are on my computer...So is the story. OK I will do it, I promise.

Here are somethings going on:
This week was Purim. A crazy holiday in Israel because honestly it is just an excuse for people to get shit-face drunk (pardon my French) But it is true. The funny thing about it is that it is not really an excuse. It says that on Purim you are supposed to drink so much that you don't know the good of Mordichai from the bad of Hamon. So all week we have been waiting for this huge party at the kibbutz. It was fun, and I don't think anyone got that drunk. Everyone dressed up. I will have to put up those pictures too someday.

Going to Gadna answered a few questions I had and of course made me ask a few more. I found out what vaccinations I will get. As I have never been vaccinated and I don't want to be, this has been a concern. First it turns out that I do have to be vaccinated. But the good news is, that they won't be much because they are expecting that everyone has already gotten them. So I will get tetanus (that can't be spelled right) and Hepatitis and probably the flu shot. But that is it.

Next I found out that I should have received a thing called a "Manila". A Manila is the paperwork you get after taking the phycometric exams. Then based on all the info they have on you, they give you a list with 4 choices of were you will be in the army. I asked what it meant that I didn't get it. The soldier told me it is not good that I need to get it as soon as possible. Because when I first enter I will be in an army immersions course with other new immigrants for 2 months. After this they disperse the soldiers. If I don't have a place to go, because I didn't decide on my Manila, I will go wherever they think they need me. Which would be a shitty desk job. Yuck.

Also regarding the army, I called a guy whose soul job is to help new immigrants in the army and specifically put them on kibbutzim to live. He is getting together a group to live on the Kineret (Sea of Galilee aka the Lake that Jesus walked on water). If I was there I would be in Nahal. Which is a very good unit in the army. It is also considered a fighting unit, so I don't know what that means for me. But I will find out more and keep everyone posted.

I definitely have had my thoughts of "Oh girl you are crazy" But my roommate has been very encouraging. She told me that when she first hear that I was going to do the army she thought I was crazy. But now she said she is really thinking of doing it to. She is from Sweden and her dad is Israeli. She said she thinks her parents would kill her. But it is good to hear someone say I'm not crazy.

I switched jobs. I now work in the Ulpan Office. Everyone calls me either the Ulpan Maid or the Ulpan Bitch. It is actually a lot of work, but I get to work on my own schedule for the most part. I do all the cleaning and I take out everyone's garbage. Also once a week I do the laundry for the Ulpan. And I help out with emails and such. It is really nice for a change.

The days are funny here. During the day it is warm enough that you could wear your bathing suit but at night is is cold enought that you need your winter jacket.

I'm Back??!!!

Hey all! I survived Gadna. I can't lie. It was a bit of a wake up call as to how the army will be. I am scared some, but I know that will just be boot camp. I learned a lot about the army and about some big questions I have to have answered and cleared for me. I was fun though. Once I adjusted the last two days were a lot better. I will write more later. Right now I am going out to dance and a club. Now I understand why soldiers always want to go out and party. Because you are so sick of everything army and dancing is fun and a bit like meditiation and quiet time. I know that sounds crazy, especially seeing as I was only in a "army program" for 4 days. But all you want to do is dance after that. I promise to write more in the next few days. Love you all. Kiss.
One of my favorite things about Israel is how quickly things change, plans are made and suddenly you are with people you have never met before. Yesterday my friend Roie (I am going to Holland with him) called and asked if I would like to go to Ma-Agan Michael for the weekend. He would be going to his parents Mosav for dinner and then would pick me up on the was back. Of course I wanted to go. I thanked him "Yalla, bye." A about an hour later he called and asked if I wanted to go to his house for Shabbat dinner. Then Noa's plans changed so less than an hour later Noa and I went from sunbathing outside our room to Roie's house.

Roie lives in "the valley" ha emek. The valley in Israel is so beautiful. I told him that if people from the US saw it they wouldn't believe that it was Israel. Noa agreed that in Sweden people think that Israel is just a dessert. All the pretty yellow wildflowers were out. There is different flora and fauna in the north and south of Israel. Or maybe it is differnt because last time I was here I left in March, so I didn't really get to see spring in all its glory. But wow, it is really nice here in spring.

It was my first time on a mosav. I really don't know enough about mosavim to write anything. I think they are similar to kibbutzim, but they are not really shared in the same way.I am pretty sure that idividuals own their own houses and such.

Roie's family was really nice. His house was so pretty, it looks very rich. A huge kitchen and a very warm feeling. His mom cooked this amazing dinner. Homestyle potatos, two kinds of chiken(both yummy)and ravioli with mushrooms. For dessert we had fruit salad. It had fresh and dried fruit in it and she put vanilla in it too.

I met some of Roie's mosavnik friends. One guy named Shahaf (which means seagull) built his own cabin type house and is an Israeli cowboy! He was just in Japan for 3 months working braking horses.

Everyone was so friendly, hugs and kisses and then back to Ma-Agan Michael. I haven't been at my old kibbutz for 3 weeks and I hadn't been to the beach in 2 months.

The pub was fun. We danced all night and Roie and I kept saying, "only two weeks till we dance in Holland!!!" I love the was Ethiopian guys dance. They really have this almost tribal style of dance.

We slept in till one today and then Noa and I went to the beach for a few hours. There were so many people at the beach and it was such a nice day. It is amazing to note. But I actually noticed that the seashells have changed! There are the same ones as before, as always. But there were all these different styles of shells. Maybe a winter current has brought in different life. It was good to get some sun too.

Then Roie made us shnitzel (breaded and fried chicken) with hummus sandwiches. And now we have just been dozing all after noon. This is what the weekend is all about.

Tomorrow I start the week long boot camp. I am glad I got to rest before that.

A Trip

I don't know how I keep forgetting something very important. I am going to the Netherlands ie Holland for almost a week. To be honest I think it might be my subconscious embarrassed, what will people think? Everyone knows what Amsterdam is known for. Well oh well. To bad. Yes I am going to a place where pot is legal. And yes I am going to visit a friend, Iris.

Iris was on the Ulpan with me. And strangely enough I didn't realize how much I loved her till after the ulpan. She stayed with Noa and I for a week and then I really got to know her and how special she is. She has this mood that changes the moods around her. And I don't think she does it to please, it just is her. She is a great person to talk to and I remember when she left to go back to Holland I was so sad, because I just got this taste.

Then our mutual friend Roie, who is on the Kibbutz told me he got a good deal on a flight there in March and did I want to go. Of course but I gave it some thought as even a good deal is a lot of money. But I decided yes since I have been spending almost no money living on the kibbutzim.

We go from March 20 tot the 26. It will be my first time in Europe and I am very excited. I wish I could see more than just one country, but this is a start and God willing I will have many opportunities to go back. It should be a lot of fun. We will probably stay half in Amsterdam and half at her house which is close by.

I had to get a temporary Israeli passport to go. But it was not a big deal.
I feel very lucky to see her again so soon.