Year Course If you want to see what kids your age are going through in Israel, Marva is an amazing experience.

By YJ Israel
4 teens backpacking

By: Zach Mendes, recent Year Course Alumnus

There was a lot of anxiety the week leading up to Marva- my friends and I had been told it was pretty hard. On your first day you go to the center for processing. You are in a room full of people you don’t know, there are commanders asking you questions and yelling at you- it’s shocking, a snap to reality, it puts you in the mindset that this is how it’s going to be for a while. After processing is done you get on a bus and head to your base, where you get new commanders who are new faces to you. They make you stand in a chet where you can’t move or talk for 4.5 hours before you are told which unit you will be in- after all that waiting you finally receive your uniform.  Putting on the uniform was a big relief. I received my rifle on the second day, and I had 48 hours to learn all the safety, rules, and components of the rifle. It’s a huge responsibility.

The first 2 weeks of Marva were the hardest because we weren’t allowed to go off base at all, we were always getting yelled at by our commanders, and you are trying to get to know everybody. The 3rd week was amazing because it was our shavua shetach (field week). We went camping, learned combat skills, and went to a firing range.

During South Week we went to Sderot which has one of the highest rocket attacks in all of Israel because it’s on the Gaza border. While we were walking through the town, people on the porches would stand up, wave to us, and call to us, “Chaim Sheli” and “Ani ohev otcha” (“my life” and “I love you”). It was an amazing experience seeing their faces light up, and we aren’t even real soldiers, we are just kids from around the world coming together to see what it’s like. That showed me that it does have meaning to people and wearing this uniform brings their spirit up. You don’t need to be an actual soldier to fight terror. Just by doing Marva we were fighting terror because it put a smile on people’s faces. That was a really amazing experience.

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