Hey guyssss!!!! What's up?
Okay so I've been saying Im a Chayal Boded. And people who send me messages on facebook and in person ask how exactly I came to do this. As a result Im going to write about it in a blog post :)
This is the actual steps I went through. People my have different experiences. For one most volunteers are men. Me, Im obviously not. So this will be different then what most volunteers go through. Please don't think that it is always like this.
Firstly I studied the Mahal website (http://www.mahal-idf-volunteers.org/index.html) like there was no tomorrow. For months I did research... LOTS of research. I was going through website after website. Talking to so many people. I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I HATE doing things blindly. I can be impulsive and like to do things without thinking it through but this was just too big to mess up.
So after reading the website for a final time BEFORE filling out the email registration form I thought long and hard for about 2 or 3 days. Literally. I left my computer on day and night so I wouldnt have to keep filling it out.
The email registration form isn't actually an official registration, it only says that you are interested. Within a day(Much quicker then i was led to believe) I got an email back explaining the qualifications and if I qualified. I did. Then I got another email with a bunch of steps. I had a medical form to fill out. I had to get a proof of Judaism letter that was signed by my rabbi. I also needed my birth certificate and my passport. Your passport has to be valid for at least 2 years after the desired enlistment date. On the top of the Procedure Email I received it had the dates for an enlistment with Ulpan and an enlistment without Ulpan. I chose with Ulpan. Its May 5.
I went to my doctor and him fill out the medical form. Easy enough. Getting the letter was slightly difficult. The temple in my town keeps changing rabbis. :( Frustrating. I sent an email asking if I should get an email from the present rabbi or the one who knows me best. I was told to try and get the letter from Rabbi Sternstein, the one who knows me best. The problem with this would be one he lives in Upstate New York and its January/February.... middle of blizzards. Even sent overnight it took 4 days to just get to his house due to the stormy weather conditions.
So, unfortunately I didn't get the letter until a week after my meeting with Mahal.
I had to leave for Israel. I made my appointment with Mahal and a few days before I left I realized I couldn't find my medical form! Ahhh!! The drama. My mom said she'd send it with the Jewish letter. I got it a week later so it was okay.
I finally got my meeting with Mahal(You have to schedule the appointment yourself). It was VERY nerve wracking to say the least. The soldier in charge of Mahal accidently told me the wrong room. woops. No biggy. He was on the phone for a looong time anyway. So we talked for a little bit. He told me a bit of whats going to happen. I will most likely be in the troop Nachal (http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/units/forces/ground/infantry/nachal/default.htm). The army will find me a place to live, most likely an apartment, and after a year I get to go back to America for a month. He also talked about the benefits of Chayal Boded. He gave me official forms to sign and photocopied my passport. Silly me marked the wrong track. I accidently checked the Short Term Haredi Path. Thats for only religious men. Not me. At all. But its okay he fixed it.
Then Shaked( Yeah by the way thats the soldier in charge of Mahal) printed out my visa extension permission form and gave me a paper with more steps to follow. When I received my Medical form and Jewish Letter I had to go the Jewish Agency. At the Jewish Agency I had to get my Jewish Letter signed. Sounds easy enough. The person I needed to sign it didn't speak english. She spoke spanish. You would think that the Jewish Agency would speak english also. Guess not. But I was thanking my lucky starts I took spanish classes in middle school and high school. I've been forgetting it since coming to Israel and learning hebrew. Im glad I was able to remember some of it.
After the letter was signed(the process took about an hour maybe less) my next step was visa extension. I went the next day. I found when going to the Ministry of Interior, it's best to go an hour before it opens. So 7 am gets you a good spot online. I waited for an hour then finally got in. I was the first person to be helped but the person next to me needed help. So they helped her since she was fussing and they figured it'd be better to get her out of there. After 5 minutes of my actual process I had my visa extended for 2 years. I thought it was awesome since they extended it for free! FREE! So cool. Usually a student visa for one semester is 150 shekels. For multiple entry student visa its 300 shekels. I got this 2 year extension for free. Love it.
After I finished the visa and letter, I photocopied the visa and faxed everything over to Shaked. I didn't hear back from him, so I called him and was like "whatsa goin on?"(not really. i just asked if he got it) Turns out he lost it. So that set me back a week. I faxed it again immediately after talking to him, called him again this time he said he got it. I was about 2 minutes late for my midterm. Now alls I had to do was wait for a phone call from someone named Ofer. So almost a month has passed and nothing. The Mahal Email isn't working. They aren't answering their phones. Fun. Great. Just what I wanted. Well I finally got in touch with Shaked today. Only took like forever. He was shocked that I haven't heard from Ofer yet so now I'm waiting for a phone call from Ofer. So now that's all I can do is wait. If I dont hear from him by Sunday Im calling again on Sunday. I also found out that they don't give me a place to live until my draft date. So far Im good. I have the dorms. Im set until then. My enlistment party will happen before I even find out when my tests are told!
My Enlistment Party is on Friday!!! Im so excited. Im also very nervous. Yesterday David said he might not be able to make it due to the army. Bummer dude, seriously. He said he is going to do what ever he can to come. I really hope he can make it. I'd love for him to be there with me. He will get to meet the friends I have at Tel Aviv University and my other Israeli friends. His friends- who are super cool by the way- are coming. Im excited. They are awesome. I will post pictures from the party on a blog post specifically for the party.
Till then dudes, I need to make some food. Im hungry.