Saturday, November 15, 2008

T-minus 4 Days...

Family and Friends,
I hope that all of you and your families are well.
I have tried to load pictures from my phone to my computer, but have had some problems. Pictures will hopefully be up on the website ( in due time.

In just 4 days (November 19th), I report for my service in the IDF. Currently, I will be reporting to the 50th Airborne Battalion of the Nachal Brigade. I was informed a few weeks ago that my Hebrew has reached a level of fluency that I am not required to attend Mcvayalon (the army Ulpan--Hebrew immersion course). I am thrilled to have bypassed Mkvayalon, but realize that my Hebrew is far from fluent and my frustrations and confusions with language alone in the IDF will occur hourly. Speaking with members of last year's Garin, they said the drawback of not knowing Hebrew is clear and is accompanied by hundreds of push-ups, but the benefit is that after making a mistake, you WILL learn that word or phrase and you WILL NOT make that mistake again. I laugh just thinking how difficult everyone says the army is who already speaks Hebrew, and knowing that I face a whole new set of challenges.

Two weeks ago I obtained a cello from a local Kibbutz. Although the cello has not been played in several years and after spending an hour readjusting all the different facets of the cello, I was able to play for the first time in over half a year (the longest span in my 13 year tenure). Frustrated with boredom, Kibbutz life, girls, and the anticipation of the IDF, the only release that I have had is running and working out. Cello gives me a completely different high, a different stress relief, an ability to put everything else in the world aside and just concentrate on a note, a bar, a phrase. I am able to separate myself from the frustrations of my daily life and move into a world that only exists in the four feet of wood and metal between my legs. Slowly by slowly, my form has come back and I am able to move from scales to etudes to concertos once again. When my life seems lost and confusing--especially when I struggle with a new language, culture, and people)--I am able to take an hour and escape everything and enter a world that is mathematical, flowing, and familiar; I know what comes next, I understand this language. Cello is truly a constant in my life when everything else is new and formidable.

Our Garin has had several tours of Israel over the past two weeks. Yesterday, I returned from a week-long visit to Eilat. On our way down, we stopped at a Moshav that has one of the largest herds of cows in the country. We pet the new calves, fed them through large baby bottles, and even had the opportunity to milk a few of the adult cows. It is truly amazing how the Moshav has each step of the cow's life down to a science. There is a secluded area for all of the pregnant cows, a separate pen for each calf, and computer chips strapped to each cow's leg so that it automatically registers where each cow is, how many times it has been milked that day, and when the next milking is. The cows are milked 3 times a day, and produce a tremendous amount of milk despite the fact that no hormones or steroids are used to enhance the output. After milking and petting the calves we walked through the grapefruit and orange orchards where I had the richest orange in my life. Walking to a creek, we ate an ironic yet unbelievably tasty lunch of fresh steaks.

Other stops along the path to Eilat included the Dead Sea, Ein Getti (one of Israel's wildlife preserves), and another night in a Bedouin tent. The trip in Eilat was more enjoyable than my first in August. The weather was more temperate and the 15-17 year olds were replaced with elderly couples. We enjoyed a day kayaking, boating, and tubing on the Gulf. With 3-4 people on each tube and 2 tubes attached to the boat, we were whipped around the Gulf at 20 MPH, holding on for dear life as we jumped from tube to tube and held on in different positions: one handed, upside down, hanging onto each other, and trying to pull others off all while making sure you still had a hand on the tube. The next day was a cruise on a yacht with back flips and slides off the boat with beer and music. The rest of the time we hung out on the beach and went out to clubs at night. Pictures from all of our adventures will be up as soon as I get them from others.

In other news, my cousin Dror returned from Australia and I have had a great time going out with him in Tel Aviv and spending time with the rest of my family before going to the army. Last week was the 13th memorial since Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. I attended the memorial at Rabin Square along with thousands of young and elderly peace activists waiving "Peace Now" signs. It was amazing to be apart of history, to see how strong the youth of this country are, and how badly peace is desired, even to this day.

I love hearing from so many of you and hope we continue our correspondences.
This will be my last update before joining the IDF and as so, I cannot promise when my next post will be. No matter what, know that you are all loved and missed and I appreciate your prayers.
With great anticipation, excitement, and angst,
Love and VDBL,

Nadav E. Weinberg