The decision to start this blog came after a long debate. I’m not sure if it’s going to amount to anything, and not sure if many people would be very interested. But in the end I decided that it can’t hurt to add to the blogs already out there about Aliyah and the IDF (a big shout out of course to http://samsank.blogspot.co.uk/), giving the most up-to-date info for the benefit of those thinking about making the same choice as I have. Reading about other people’s experiences certainly helped me, eased my mind about certain things, and made me question others. So I hope to do my bit and add to the Aliyah/IDF-related literature out there already.
So first, an introduction: my name is Michael Kosky and I am currently in my third and final year studying Philosophy and Politics at the University of Leeds. Before University, I went on FZY Yearcourse, which changed my life. Though of course it didn’t represent daily life there, it was the first time that I had immersed myself into the culture and the people, and I fell in love. The decision to take this step was made long ago. I even remember, at the age of six, seeing a group of soldiers at the Kotel and turning to my dad, declaring that one day “I want to be one of those”.
The primary purpose of this blog is of course to describe the details of the process, right from the start. I might also throw in the odd observation here and there of how I’m feeling about it all. Of course, people who have already gone through the process might pity my naivety, and fair enough! I can’t wait for the day that I can read someone else’s first blogs and silently laugh at their inexperience. I know that there’ll be times when I will hate myself for even thinking about considering this decision (I’ve been forewarned, many times), but that’s all part of the process.
So why have I started this blog here, 7 months before my planned departure? Because for me, my Aliyah starts here. Having exhausted all avenues of research, knowing the details of each step and its finances etc, and having discussed this in-depth with family and those close to me, I have officially signed up to Garin Tzabar. In short, Garin Tzabar is the organisation that facilitates Aliyah and IDF service, where the group lives together on a Kibbutz throughout their service (plenty more details to come).
There are three preparatory seminars, and the first one is in a few weeks. These seminars are there to give us the relevant information, and for the group to meet and get to know each other. Even getting up to this point was a very small lesson in Israeli bureaucracy, having to speak to quite a few people before getting through to the relevant ones, with this one telling you to go to this one, and another one telling you to speak to someone else, and so on. But I got there in the end, and I’ve been told that the bureaucratic procedures are a nightmare without Garin Tzabar, so I can’t complain.
Though I don’t want this blog to be taken up with too much emotive description, this first blog post is a good opportunity to explain why I have made this decision to join Garin Tzabar. Aside from the practical side of things, ideology does of course play a part. I feel a certain sense of responsibility. As a kid, from the point at which I began to realise what Israel was, I felt an inalienable connection. Growing up, Zionism was a constant topic brought to the Friday night table. Books on Israel, Jewish history and Zionism monopolised the shelves, and my heart was always there. Now is the time to take the step in realising my dream. Why not before? Why didn’t I make Aliyah when I was 18? As well as being an impassioned idealist, I also have a practical head. I wanted to keep my options open and come back to the UK to get a degree. Even now, it’s only after months and months of speaking to people, researching the details, that I am prepared to take the step. Otherwise, despite my idealism, I wouldn’t be ready.
So what now? I have my first seminar with Garin Tzabar coming up, and I’m also taking the opportunity to work on my Hebrew. The focus at the moment is on the grammar, which seems unnecessarily complicated. Between now and August, these blog posts will be few and far between, as there’s not a huge amount of details to be shared. But I will report back after the seminar. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my last real festive season for a little while!