I served in Sar-El from 9th – 27th June 2013, this was my second Sar El program, having done one previously in 2011. After submitting my paperwork, booking my flight and packing, I was a little apprehensive as to whether the coming program would live up to the wonderful experience I had in 2011.
I arrived in Tel Aviv and made my way to the meeting point. I would have a long wait, it was only 05.45!! I sat there and wondered who would be in my group and where we would be going. Eventually 08.30 came, and Pam called my name and assigned me to a group. There were 9 of us in total and I was both the youngest at 53 and the only non Jewish person. (Not that this bothered me, or anyone else).
Our Madrichot shepherded us to the coach, which would drop off another group on the way to our destination, a logistics base in the Negev. And so it had begun. We arrived, were issued our uniforms and shown where we would be working.
Even though it was usually around 35 degrees, it was a dry heat and not as oppressive as here in UK. As I write this we are having a heatwave, it’s only 30 here but humid. Our Madrichot were Eva and Adva. Eva usually had French groups, so we posed a bit of a challenge language wise. She always had an infectious smile and if she was unable to find a word to describe something, – google is your friend! She would type it into her mobile and come up with the answer.
Adva had been born prematurely and as a result was visually impaired. She had fought to join the army as a volunteer and although she did not speak much English, she endeavored to expand her vocabulary as the program progressed. She also took part in helping blind children experience what being an IDF soldier is like.
The pair of them were inseparable, like sisters. During the afternoons when we were working, they would spend their time planning the evening activity, which would involve writing, coloring and cutting numerous pieces of paper. They would also walk to the Shekem and buy popcorn or wafers with their own money and give them out during the evening activities.
I was not too keen on the evening activities after my previous program and looked upon them like school detention, something you had to do. However when Eva and Adva took the activities, myself and no doubt, the rest of the group were severely disappointed that it was over so soon.
The last week saw a group of French volunteers join us and one of the evening activities the Madrichot devised was for each person to wear a hat on which they would stick a post it note with a name, visible to all except the person, who would have to ask questions to find out who they were. After we had all taken part, I shouted that it was now their turn, and instead of smiling and just politely declining, they accepted. Adva became ET, which was most amusing with the usual questions, male or female, Jewish ? etc. Eva became Charlie Chaplin.
Both of them often cooked a surprise for us at most mealtimes from scrambled eggs, French toast to Shashuka. I wished that the term for National service in the IDF for women was 6 years or so. That way I know that these pair would still be in for many of my friends to experience their hard work and devotion doing a job that they both love. I wish them all the best in whatever future careers they choose to pursue.
I had no worries about the 2013 program failing to live up to my expectations. The evening activities were so much fun, that it surpassed it.