i don’t like putting titles on these things arrrg

i’ve been reading zachariah and find it mind-blowing.  i suppose that the last time i read it i skipped over all the craziness.  read it.

so i spent the entirety of pesach on base.  this gave me the opportunity to do two things:

1.  learn the words to all the song i have known the general melody of since childhood, which until now have filled me with the spirit of holiday nostalgia.  some of them have now crushed this spirit with genius lyrics like “fill my pocket with nuts”.  good job, jews.  good job.

2. be very, very hungry.  there is nothing to eat during passover in the army except matzah and badly cooked vegetables and “meat.”   i found myself wondering which wild plants were edible and the ever grazing palestinian sheep stopped looking cute and started looking mouth wateringly delicious.

((((((note: if you are a relative of mine, or a friend of my parents, i do not recommend that you continue reading.  you may think that i’m in a crazy place after all…just saying, i warned you.)))))

other than that…passover passed uneventfully…except one thing…i got beat up by about 15 boys.  well, not exactly beaten up, because all the beating was focused on one part of the body, and each took his turn in an organized fashion, and many of the blows were followed by hugs.  but, anyway, my first experience at group physical violence dished out upon by body….

so, a bit of background info…

rank in the idf, with the exception of commanders, is based on time.   in combat units, upon receiving the rank of sergeant (1 year and 4 months in our case), a soldier is endowed with certain privileges (such as exception from kitchen duty-hallelujah!-, preference in missions, etc) and is given a very….passionate…reception into this new stage in his army service by those who have drafted before him.  by passionate i mean painful, in our case spanking red raw painful slaps that land on trembling backs.  i’ve heard about marines passing out from traditions of right-of-passage, and even my friends in infantry training would come home with pin stabs on their palms, but i half-disappointedly expected that we girls would be spared from it all.  at the end of advanced training 8 months ago, our pins were delicately placed on our breast pockets, not punched into them like in some units of the idf.  in every aspect of job and command frame-work, my unit is co-ed and undiscriminating of gender, but there are  exceptions not related to operational duties, many of them informal.   an example of a formal exception would be that during the physical fitness test, girls are required 45 push ups while guys are required 75 due to our relatively weak upper body strength, yet both sexes need to do 89 sit ups, as abs are equal opportunity muscles.  an example of informal exception would be the mental separation that exists between the male majority and the female minority.  many acts of chivalry are surprisingly present especially when we are off duty (here, let me carry that)  and while i have no problem with accepting a man’s help to do something i may be weak in (a change from the feminist i once was), there are some girls that take advantage of this and become lazy, even incompetent (ew gross i don’t want to wash that, you do it, you big strong man you).

because of this, i was rather surprised when one of the smaller, more “feminine,” traditional girls spoke up and said “ok, let’s get this over with, i’ve got a hummer patrol to get to.”  her remark came after witnessing a few of the guys from our draft stand with hands pressed against the wall receive smack after violent smack and emit scream after shrilling scream, many of them laced with indecencies.  i’m not referring to enthusiastic pats on the back, but the summoning of all of one’s might into a raised hand which is sent flying full force onto a square of repeatedly abused, tender skin, immediately showing yet another glowing red hand print.  with her nonchalant tone, this girl made her request sound like a hassle, and assumed the position against the wall.  i was excited in a scared happy sort of way.  the boys were hesitant-there were almost no girls in the two drafts beforehand and only the most veteran soldiers had encountered this situation.  it took them a minute, but eventually one stepped up and gave her a good whack.  others followed, one or two of them chickening out and withdrawing their hand at the last minute (they can spend a week without showering in a crammed space with a  girl, they can shoot alongside her, they can crawl in the mud with her, they can work out with her, they can call her all sorts of names that they would never call their sisters, they can even take orders from her, but hitting her, i suppose that for some boys that crosses the line).  soon another girl took her turn, this time the boys growing more comfortable with the concept but some still slightly apprehensive, some granting more mercy in their blows than they did with the male victims.

then i stepped up.

“look,” i said mostly jokingly,” i know i annoy a lot of you, so here’s your chance to take out your feelings.”

at once there was yelling over who would get the first hit, boys fighting to get through to to the front and get a good shot at me, and i realized that my words may have reflected reality much more than i had estimated.  and there was no longer any mercy to be found by that wall.  the first blow had me thinking, “wow, that was extremely painful, but i can take this.”  the second caused me to yelp, of course followed by giggling, which i’m sure agitated the bunch.  the next hit met the challenged my laughter had given and felt like a fire on my back of which the burn stayed for hours.  they continued enthusiastically, and i’m almost sure that at some point i felt my spine buckle from the force.  it was a lot of pain to handle, but only lasted 5 minutes, and i was grinning the whole time (but also definitely gritting my teeth).  afterward, some of my offenders, with glowing smiles of accomplishment, gave me requisite hugs.

so that was interesting, and fun, i must admit.  i felt like a true member of the family…a crazy family that beats the skin of their childrens’ backs until it’s blotted and pink upon them reaching the age of one year and four months, and all the while they laugh about it together.  i’m sure that those same people, when it’s my turn to abuse the sargeants of the march 08 draft, will tell me that i hit like a girl.

i didn’t get a pic of my own back, but here’s one of the other girls from my draft a little while afterward (she was the second one up to bat…not royally abused like myself but still given her share)…you can kind of make out a hand print or two…later came the welts, the bumps, the purple, the brown…


oh, and one more thing.  I HATE SUMMER.  it’s only beginning…with little signs like that we can’t wear comfortable beanie hats anymore but are forced to don the company base ball cap all day…there is no way to make that hat cool.


4 Responses to “i don’t like putting titles on these things arrrg”

  1. e.s. Says:

    Kind of amazing that “hazing” happens in Israel. We kind of banned it here in the U.S. now. People go to jail for that kind of thing now.

  2. beyondtheborder Says:

    I don’t get it, why are you guys doing this?

  3. ronit kory Says:

    the smacks? it’s a sort of welcoming in to a new stage in army life. a tradition…anyone who doesn’t want to participate doesn’t have to…and it’s really nothing demeaning or seriously harmful, everyone laughs together in the end

  4. ronit kory Says:

    it’s not exactly hazing…it’s a couple of smacks on the back…and it’s all in good humor

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