December 4, 2014
Today was spent amidst the rolling hills of Gush Etzion, an area just outside of Jerusalem. We began our day visiting the community that houses the Yeshiva Mekor Chaim in a place called Kfar Etzion. We watched a multimedia presentation explaining the tremendous significance of the region as well as the plight of the people who have chosen to settle in the area to ensure the security and continuity of Jewish life throughout the land of Israel. For many of us, choosing a place to live is often determined by proximity to certain amenities, views, or comfort, but for these people, their presence in the area is a conscious and constant testament to their belief in Israel being the home of the Jews. Encountering such passion and conviction is deeply inspiring!
Following our introduction into where we were, we had the privilege of meeting the man who headed the civilian search party that worked with the army to find the kidnapped boys, Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, earlier this year. Using his incredible knowledge of the region's terrain, him and his colleagues were able to provide the army with essential information and tips that ultimately lead to the terrible discovery of the boys' bodies.
After a relaxing lunch on the grass, we boarded the bus for an incredible experience at Caliber 3. Today, 105 Jewish individuals obtained a first-hand experience in the basics of self-defence. We arrived at Caliber 3, which is a anti- terrorism and security organization, which empowers people with the knowledge of how to combat terror and teaches them what to do in literally ‘terrifying’ situations.
Upon arrival, the instructors in their army-style uniforms cut an impressive figure and greeted us as we formed a letter ‘Chet’, the standard formation in which soldiers stand. After one of the instructors explained the proceedings to follow, we were separated into three groups and sent to different stations in order to learn what Caliber 3 is all about. Each group had an opportunity to participate in three activities, Krav Maga training, aim practice and best of all, paintballing. Krav Maga is a type of Israeli self-defence that all soldiers in the Israeli army have to learn and master. At the Krav Maga station, we learnt how to defend ourselves under attack. Due to the threat of terror in Israel, it is important that all Israelis have some knowledge on how to defend themselves and what to do in case of emergency situations. Krav Maga is all about doing whatever you have to do in order to survive, involving many attributes which include, speed, strength, precision and awareness. As we learnt several techniques from our experienced instructor, we began to practise the revered self-defence discipline. Then in preparation for the paintball activity, we practiced the technique for correctly aiming and the correct stance for firing and moving towards a target. All our training culminated in a game of paintball. Running around the grounds, ducking and hiding, we all emerged proudly from our game of paintball, measuring our heroism by the amount of orange paint that splattered our clothing!
Upon concluding the program, the main instructor congratulated us for all completing the program and explained that we, the Jewish people, are deeply responsible for each other. As he stood there in his uniform, he explained that his service in the army is for each every one of us, his life a dedication to the safety of the land of Israel and the people of Israel, even those in Australia.
That evening, we spent our remaining time relaxing, playing soccer for the boys and Zumba for the girls, as we used the hour or two to unwind after yet another busy and exciting day!