Gil Cohen – Garin Lahav 20174th March 2021
"I find myself still surrounded by the love and support of the family that Garin Tzabar gave me "
I’ve always been the “Israeli girl” in every group of friends that I had throughout years of living around the world – especially in Melbourne, where I grew up most of my life. I was known as the one who lights Hannukah candles and speaks some foreign language at home. When I began to talk about moving to Israel and joining the IDF at the end of high school, that really cemented this title amongst my confused but supportive group of friends. Just the thought of going made even me feel more Israeli, but nothing really could have prepared me for what happened next.
From the get-go of landing in Israel, I realized that everything I thought I knew was just a tiny spec of what Israeli life really is. The culture shock was a serious understatement to what I was feeling at the time, this is where Garin Tzabar came in. Whilst I was adjusting to life in Israel, somewhere up there someone was taking care of every piece of bureaucracy that exists for me, two soldiers were acting as our mothers/friends/psychologists/teachers to help us get out of our state of total shock, improve our Hebrew substantially, prepare us for different miyunim and gibbushim and break up this crazy country and into little chunks that we could take in one at a time.
Three years after that initial shock, following a challenging but amazing service, weekends coming to a Kibbutz that I no longer saw as a weird summer camp but my home, and a whole lot of beloved memories, I stumble into a virus-ridden civilian life, I find myself still surrounded by the love and support of the family that Garin Tzabar gave me including a mashakit that kept me afloat well after her official job was done and as cheesy and cliché as it sounds, I don’t doubt that they’ll be sticking around for life.