Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLIX. My Military Career (2 of 5)

Most of the members of my outfit were adolescents.  Now, I am sure you`ve seen how a teenager`s room looks like; try to multiply that by, say, 200; if you can`t imagine, well, neither could I until I took a good look at the barracks 2 days after we moved in.  I am trying to think of even one analogy to describe our living quarters, but I simply can’t.  Dump?  Hit by a tornado?  Pigsty?  Sorry, but none of it is adequate.  What worried me was the reaction of the sergeant.  “All hell will break loose when he takes a close look at this place,” I thought.  Indeed, when he visited the place, I heard him muttering under his breath, “ma che na’asaa po hou pachout nora.” (What happened here is simply awful).

On the second day, training began in earnest.  Finally, when we`ve reached the point of utter exhaustion, we were allowed to retire for the night.  We did not waste a moment since reveille was at 5:00 A.M.  Because of our fatigue, and the excitement of the day, we did not fall asleep right away.  In my case, I had some pain in the groin area.  Now the pain was getting worse, and I went to the infirmary.  I was carefully examined by a doctor who informed me that I did not have a hernia, but to keep an eye on it.  (I did have the beginning of a hernia and would require surgery many years later).

It must have been 2:00 A.M. when I finally returned to the barracks and went to sleep.  But my sleep was of short duration.  Around 3:00 A.M., there was a big commotion which I assumed at the beginning to be part of my dream.  But, alas, it was not a dream.  The sergeant accompanied by what seemed like a higher ranking officer, was ordering us to clean and put some order in our quarters.  I was not taken by surprise; yet I found it unconscionable that our sleep was cut short for something that could have been done during the daytime.

In my case, I went to the sergeant to advise him that I was in pain and had been at the infirmary.  He made a vague gesture which I interpreted to mean that I was excused.

The rest of the group brought buckets of soapy water and mops and they began cleaning the place.  They also put all their belongings in their proper places.

When they were they were finished, the place was again fit for human habitation!  It was also way past 5:00 A.M.  There was no question of going back to sleep; it was time to start day 3.

I may have questioned the whole operation early on; but what I can say is that the lesson was not lost on these young soldiers; the place thereafter was kept neat.

The time we were allotted to finish all morning activities – shower, shave, and dress –was about 20 minutes.  It normally takes me 15 minutes just to shower, and while I rushed, I was always far behind and, accordingly, attracted the ire of the sergeant.

I should mention that our group was not a fighting group.  For medical reasons, and/or because of the skills we possessed, we were destined to offer professional support to the fighting divisions of the army.  In my case, I had been sent to that group because I was underweight, and because I had a university education.  Two options were presented to me:  I could either work as an assistant pharmacist or as a meteorologist (after acquiring the necessary training).  There were also other interesting possibilities.  The other members of my platoon would eventually work as technicians, engineers, doctors, administrators, and so on.  For those that were willing to make a career out of the army, even a university education could be financed by the Israeli taxpayers.  The army offers opportunities that cannot easily be found in civilian life.

While we were not expected to fight, it was imperative for us to undergo a bare minimum of military training.  Whether you’re a professional or a soldier, you never know when you can find yourself confronted by the enemy.

At the mess, members of fighting squads mocked our limited role.  “Even the chayalot (female soldiers) play a bigger role in the army,” we were told.  It was of course all done in jest, not to be taken seriously.  In truth, they did appreciate our contribution as we did theirs.

Comments are closed.