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The Moment of Truth

Once the interviews were over with we were led back to our plugah. Had it really only been three days since I had left it behind? Someone let out a loud whistle, someone else let out a cheer and then the whole plugah was applauding those of us who walked back in, they cheered us all, no one even knew if they had made it into any of the units but that didn’t seem to matter. It made me all of the more proud of the spirit of of these guys. This was the mindset of the Israelis, always encouraging each other, always lending a hand even before one was asked for. I looked around at the people sitting up on their bunks applauding us, none of whom I knew and felt the sense of belonging that had so eluded me in England. I found my bunk and dumped my gear on it before stumbling my way to the shower and then dumped myself into a sleeping bag on my metal cot and passed out.

At 0600 the next day I stood in a line with all the other guys who had successfully completed the gibush and watched an officer read out names and units from his list. My fists were clenched and I repeated over and over in my head “Sayeret, Sayeret.” Perhaps if I whispered the word over and over again to myself they would let me in! I had really done everything I could this time, I had carried a sandbag on my shoulder for hours, I had called through the desert, I had done everything asked of me and now the reward was about to arrive. I had abandoned England and my life there for this one moment so please God and the spirits up high as well as those in the IDF paratroopers please just send me to the place I have to be.” The officer looked up as he took a breath. He went back to his list and read off some more names, before, finally I heard “Goldberg”. “Here,” I say, still silently praying, fists clenched, eyes closed voice in my head whispering Sayeret, Sayeret, and then I heard it… “Orev”.WHAT THE FUCK DID HE JUST SAY?

I felt the tears forming,Orev? No, no, you said the wrong unit, you got it all mixed up! Why? This was the only challenge in my life that I had truly worked for, truly aspired to with some reasonable hope of success. I had never felt motivation like this for anything before, I would have paid any price, done anything they had asked of me to get there. I had sweated day in and day out, exercising, making sure I was eating the right food and most of all wanting, envisioning, dreaming and thinking about it and doing all in my power that I could to make it happen. And I had still failed!

It had all been for nothing. I had failed! My dream was dead. Now there was nothing I could do about it, the army had me for the next two years and my soul was broken.I had lost my will to serve, I had lost my will to obey orders. In that ever lasting moment the sky had fallen in on me, the two years of my life that I had already signed away stretched before me like a yellow brick road without an Emerald City waiting for me at the end.

Over the next couple of hours I went through the same motions as everyone around me, giving back equipment and getting more, I was utterly absent from the process though, I wanted out of the army completely. I had been cheated, I had tried and I had failed and now I had no options left before me. The word Orev floated endlessly through my mind. What did it mean, this word Orev? What pathetic unit had they thrown me into? 
The answer wouldn’t be long in coming, my misery was painfully insignificant to the army as the regular logistical operation swung into action. Every soldier on the base was now assigned to a permanent unit, new equipment was dished out, signatures were given on forms that weren’t read and the process of becoming a real paratrooper began and I didn’t care any more, I wanted to go home.
Those of us who were in any of the special units of the Tzanhanim were led away to our new plugah by a somber looking soldier I had never seen before and would never see again. The new plugah was a carbon copy of the previous one but was slightly further away than the others. He nodded at a couple of the 10 man canvas tents that seemed to comprise just about all of the accommodation that was on the base and read names off a list. Mine was one of them and so into the tent I went with my kit bag and grabbed the nearest metal cot I saw. I sat there for a moment wondering what to do next.
With all of the administration involved in sending new soldiers to their units there was nothing to do but think about the collapse of my dream. The idea of being a member of the famed Sayerethad utterly consumed me I had never really considered what to do if I didn’t make it. I replayed the gibush over and over again in my mind, perhaps I had eaten too quickly, maybe I hadn’t helped people out enough, there had to be some clue, some reason why I had been sent to the Orev and not the Sayeret. What had I done wrong? What could I have done differently? What had they wanted to hear in the interview? There must have been something but I couldn’t understand precisely what had happened. 

I had heard of the Orev unit, I didn’t know much about them but I did know that they weren’t as “special” as the Sayeret and now I was one of them.