Entry 7: Garin Tzabar Seminar 1: 12/04/09

This past weekend I attended Garin Tzabar’s First East Coast seminar. I entered the weekend a bit skeptical. Last Sunday was my 22nd birthday, and I was sure that the seminar would attract immature High School seniors who were closer in age to the campers I was responsible for in my 3 summers as a camp counselor than friends that I would enjoy hanging out with. While I was right on the second front, I was wrong on the first. I was indeed one of five people over the age of 18 out of the some 24 people who attended the seminar, and the only one over the age of 21. That being said, there is a maturity found in individuals who have spent any number of years living out outside of the United States that is absent in their peers, and that foreign bred maturity was a characteristic common to many of the seminar’s participants. That maturity was further complemented by the sense of purpose shared by all the seminar’s participants; While most High School seniors are drunk with joy (pun intended) at the prospect of having four years to do work here and there, drink and smoke copiously, and contemplate their future, those that came to that seminar had made a conscious decision to forfeit (or at least prolong) that period of their life in favor of serving the state of Israel. There is a certain degree of maturity required in order to make such a serious decision, and that maturity was evident in the group that attended Seminar 1.

The seminar was conducted entirely in Hebrew, and while this was a surprise to me, it was not unwelcome. The Israeli army speaks Hebrew, and thus those who wish to join it must do likewise. While I’ve taken five semesters of Hebrew, it was clear to me that my Hebrew lagged far behind the native Hebrew speakers and those that had attended Hebrew Day schools, and I was pleased to use the weekend as an opportunity to hone my speaking and understanding skills. I was very impressed by the nature of the Garin Tzabar program. In a nut shell, you attend six weekend seminars at a rate of one per month, after which-time the group moves together to a kibbutz in Israel, where all are required to remain for at least a year, and are in fact encouraged to spend their entire army service living on that kibbutz with the group (required in the sense that the extra money that the government allots to lone soldiers to pay for their housing goes directly to the kibbutz for the first year). In addition to informative sessions about what we could expect both culturally and socially, there were numerous team-building exercises that tested our critical reasoning skills as well as our ability to work in groups, both of which are crucial in the army. These exercises had the added effects of bringing us closer to one another, and by the end of the weekend, the twenty-four people who had arrived as strangers departed as close friends.

It is hard to verbalize the comratery that develops among those who are so staunch in their beliefs. Each one of us has been told by some degree of friends and family that we were crazy for doing what we want to do, and each one of us has made the conscious decision that the safety of the state of Israel requires us to do more than write to our school newspaper, get a good job and donate money, or preach about why the bomb-maker is wrong. The type of person who is attracted to join the IDF is a person who believes in action, a person who is willing to risk life and limb for an idea that they believe is bigger than themselves. Those type of people are not that common, and when you bring them together for forty-four hours, the bonds that develop are inseparable.

4 Responses to “Entry 7: Garin Tzabar Seminar 1: 12/04/09”

  1. iona Says:

    HI, I am a mom of a 18 year old boy who lives in california and is interested in the garin program. Your info was written in 09 and I am wondering if you went to israel on the program and if you feel it is one you would recommend and if not are their any other army programs that go to israel that you would recommend. Thank you
    iona

  2. kayli Says:

    I am considering the garin tzabar program. did you do it? how do you like it? would you reccomend it?
    what made you wait until after college to join? why not before?

  3. Rachel Says:

    Hey, I think I am joining Garin Tzabar this coming year, and I wanted to know more about the program, what army units you can join, your freedom when your at the kibbutz, if you like it…

    thanks!

  4. Avraham Venismach Says:

    For young men that would like to prepare for IDF Service I would like to suggest Keshet Yehuda Pre Military Academy.

    They offer: Shiurim in English, Hebrew Classes, Pre Army Training, Elistment Advice and more.

    They integrate you into over 130 Israelis preparing for Army Service. You will be able to learn/ improve your Hebrew faster and have a chance to get into the Israeli mentality.

    Here is a quote about them from General Tal Russo, Chief of Southern Command, IDF :

    “The Keshet Yehuda Pre Military Academy
    is in the center of action, a center of influence.
    We see the graduates of the academy in every
    combat unit, in all the elite army, navy and
    air force units and in command positions.
    Everything they do is for the good of the State of Israel.”

    You can learn more about them at Keshetyehuda dot Org / English.

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