You can live in a country for 12 years and still have a lot to learn. Last Thursday was our beloved girl's IDF "swearing in" ceremony, and no matter how much you hear talk of the army (and you certainly hear a lot of it here in Israel) nothing can prepare you for the reality of the thing. The girl has completed two or three basic trainings (the number varies depending on when you ask her), but now that she is in the Engineering Corp, this was one ceremony we were expected to attend. (I suspect that she really just wanted the ride home).
So bwo and I and a newly awakened bso (it was early in the morning for him at 11) drove to the "Hulda Memorial of the Engineering Corp". We arrived a few minutes early (we are South African, in case you forgot) and joined the rest of the families waiting in the heat; a thing we did a lot of that day. I went for a quick explore and found my girl, dressed in full battle gear waiting alongside her peers. She was distressed because she could not join her girls on their "forced march" of 15 minutes as she had complained of shin splints a few days previously. She looked most imposing with her M16.
The girls marched off and returned hot and sweaty about 15 minutes later. Bdo joined them as they did a quick bit of PE and polished their shoes and donned berets. Just hearing them shout "Ken HaMefakedet" (Yes, Sir) in unison already made it all worth while. After much milling around the ceremony finally began. The girls "marched" (looked more like a pack of preschoolers playing soccer) onto the parade ground to receive their guns and bibles (the girl has already received three of these bibles from the army). There were speeches from important looking military types and prayers from their army rabbi (an essential part of any military ceremony, we have god on our side). The parents were all swelling with pride as their girls officially became soldiers. Then a girl keeled over and fainted. The until-now just slightly disorganized ceremony collapsed into chaos. The fainted girl's mother ran screaming into the ranks of soldiers shouting "give her air" while smothering her with her ample bulk. The officers looked around helplessly as the parade dissolved and people shouted for a medic who finally came over dressed in a bedraggled Bob Marley Tshirt and army green pants. The father of the prostrate girl finally carried her off into the shade and the ceremony was resumed only to be continually interrupted while parents passed out water to their young, all the while giving the officers dirty looks at letting their babies stand so long in the heat. Our girl took all this in with a bemused look and a shrug of shoulder, she's seen it all, she has.
After what felt like many hours the ceremony was over and I was hoping we could leave. No such luck. We had to wait till we spoke with the officers. Another hour wait. No one explained to us we were supposed to bring lunch and as each family spread out their blankets and shared out their borekas and sandwiches in the shade we were forced to come to terms just how much we suck at this army stuff. Finally we were led into a sweltering class room and the parent's meeting began. The meeting was held with that semi organized chaos that Israel is so good at. People interrupting at will and constantly chattering among themselves. It appears that our girl is one of 19 that will go through the five month course to become either an explosives or a D9 (huge Caterpillar earth mover) instructor. It was made clear that this is a "prestigious" course and the "very best place in the whole IDF". I liked the fact that the girl's officers (young girls themselves) gave us their cell phone numbers and the course commander told us all about his family. I think the girl should learn to drive a D9 but she only wants to blow things up.
Finally (actually at 1:30pm as stated in the invitation) we were let go, along with our soldiers. I am very proud of my girl. I personally could do without this whole military experience, but she has shown strength of character throughout. She did not accept the fact that the army decided she should be a Mackit (Basic Training Instructor), and insisted that she get to do something in a "fighting unit". She stood her ground and did what many said was not possible. You rule, blackdaughtero.
St George's Park fountain
12 hours ago