December 13, 2013
We were all both very excited and nervous for Gadna as we didn’t know what to expect. Most people had a certain view of it even before we arrived, but nothing could prepare us for what we faced when we arrived. We all expected it to be very physically involved but we were met with almost the complete opposite.
Our days usually began at 6am when we were woken up by our mefakdim (commanders) and were given twenty minutes to be outside in a chet (two parallel lines joined by a base line) and to be standing in akshev (feet together in a v-shape, and hands behind our backs in a diamond shape). As well as this, we ended up spending the majority of our day standing in two lines, listening to our mefakdim bark orders in another language, which most of us don’t understand. We all began to become exhausted at the thought of Gadna as everything we were made to do instilled in us a sense of boredom and disinterest. Sometimes, we had lessons with our mefakdim about the values of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and about the types of the equipment and weapons used, which we thoroughly enjoyed if only for the fact that we had time to sit down and relax.
One of the more laborious tasks which was placed upon us was torahnut (cleaning). Certain groups were given the honour of cleaning the kitchen after meals, which entailed scrubbing dishes, the floor, and serving food. It took us about 4-5 hours and left us all completely exhausted! Despite all the hardships we faced, we managed to find our own individual ways to push ourselves through and to make the experience more enjoyable. We got together and sang songs about our challenges such as songs from Annie, when we were in our darkest times.
Against all odds, we supported each other until the end! One of the moments that made the whole experience worthwhile was when we were given an opportunity at the end to speak to our mefakdim about who they were as actual people. Throughout the week, we formed a certain perception of them and we started to believe that they only had a serious side but as we spoke to them, it was rewarding to get to know them for their personality and who they actually are. I think that every person got something out of Gadna whether it was that they discovered a part of themselves that they never knew existed or bonding with people that they had never spoken to before. Overall, Gadna was a very physically tiring and strenuous experience, and to think that teenagers just two years older than us are being drafted into the Israeli Army and serving a three-year service made us all have a greater respect towards soldiers and their commitment to the State of Israel.