Tuesday, December 12, 2006

UCSC's Own Joins the IDF

One of UCSC's own Jewish slugs is about to become a soldier of the State of Israel. Shiranne Radzinski, who has thus far completed her sophomore year at Santa Cruz, has decided to take a few years off to complete her term in the Israeli Defense Forces. She submitted the following to the JewniProj on the eve of her conscription:
I left UCSC at the end of last year and moved to Israel to join the Israeli army, and the time is finally here. Tomorrow morning I will begin my two year service in the IDF. I expected to be a little more nervous, but at this point there's nothing I would rather be doing, so nervousness is out of the question.

Leaving Santa Cruz was hard, but not as hard as it would have been for most other UCSC students, I guess. I'm Israeli, I lived in Israel, my parents were in the army and my older brother paved the way for me when he left UCSB to join the army three years ago. For as long as I can remember, I knew that I would eventually join the army myself.

And this is the real deal I'm talking about. It's not a few months of playing army or volunteering with a group of Americans. I came with a program called Garin Tzabar, but the service is individual. Garin Tzabar is geared towards Israelis like myself who want some help with the army-joining process, but is also welcoming of any person who wants to commit to a full service in the IDF. I am part of the West Coast group, with lots of Californians, a couple Coloradans, a girl from Arizona, a kid from Washington, and even a few Canadians. Most of the group lived in Israel at one point or another. Many people grew up in Hebrew speaking households. Some didn't speak a word of Hebrew before they landed in the country. We all live together on a kibbutz, spend a few months working and then start our army with a home to come back to on the weekends. The key advantage of the program is the home on the kibbutz and the garin family. My garin is a family of high school graduates, college students and college graduates all with the same goal: to serve Israel.

I had no doubt that I wanted to join the army, and some doubts as to whether or not I should join with Garin Tzabar or try to go through the process on my own, but this was a minor issue. The only real dilemma I had was when to leave. Should I go as soon as I turn 18? Should I wait until I finish college and get a degree? My parents and many of my UCSC friends tried to convince me that it would make more sense to wait. Eventually I decided that I would feel more comfortable going in at age 18/19 rather than at 20/21 if I wanted to feel like I was no different from other Israelis. Going back to college after the army shouldn't be so difficult.

Now that I'm in Israel I have no doubt that I made the right choice. Rather than spending too much money on another two years of confusion, uncertainty, and lots of distractions, I've committed myself to doing something that I believe in, maybe even giving myself a little more time to digest the world before trying to throw myself into it. I'm 19, I have time.

Living in Ein Harod Ihud (my kibbutz) with Garin Alon (my garin) has been an amazing and new experience for me. I can't help but feel that I am incredibly lucky to be here. I'm also lucky enough that my parents decided to move back to Israel a little after I did, so I don't have to miss my family as much as everyone else.

My bags are pretty much packed, my uniform is folded and ready, and I'm totally excited. I think it's time for bed.

With love,
Your good ol' UCSC pal,
Bringing Santa Cruz to Tzahal,

You should have great success in your defense of the Jewish People. You'll be in our prayers.


Blogger Orlegoim said...

Yasher Koach!!!!!!!

Maybe I'll be joining you soon....I want to thank you soooooooooo much for your service.

Wed Dec 13, 02:38:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's Way Cool Shiranne.

I remember you were talking about how much you were looking forward to this way back last year. And now you came through with it--Mozaaaaaaaaaaal Tov!


Fri Dec 15, 03:57:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey its great finding this site. Im a Brit moving to Cali, and im preety intrested in UCSC. But i also really want to take a gap year, do alot of people do this before college? Or after the first two years?
Is there anything like young judea yearcourse for any other time or is it a one time thing?

Sun Dec 24, 08:46:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, since im already on the question path; Whats UCSC like for orthodox-ish Jews?
Or are there many Jews at all? Iranian Jews?
Hows shabbat and stuff? And Santa Cruz itself, hows the community? City Life? Oo and weather!
Thanks, sorry if this is annoying but i havent even visited any of the U's yet!

Sun Dec 24, 08:50:00 AM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Hello anonymous person. Thanks for stopping by our blog, let me try to answer some of your questions.

But i also really want to take a gap year, do alot of people do this before college? Or after the first two years?
By "gap year," I'm not sure whether you mean a year off from studies or a year studying abroad. If you meant a year off from studies, it seems to me that not many people take a year off before college, but I think it is a very good idea, especially if you're not certain what you want to study in college yet. As far as taking a year off after the first two years, no, that is not done very often, but some people do it. Like Shiranne here, who just joined the IDF after her first two years. As far as studying abroad, anytime is fine as long as it fits your life schedule.

Is there anything like young judea yearcourse for any other time or is it a one time thing?

As far as studying abroad in Israel, you can do that anytime. The UC system actually canceled their Israel programs when the second intifada started, but you can still study there. For instnace, I took a leave of absence from UCSC for a year to study at the Hebrew University.

Whats UCSC like for orthodox-ish Jews?

Well... there is a Chabad House on campus that is an excellent resource for orthodox-ish students. Over the last couple years, there have been two student houses that kept kosher, although currently there is only one. The are only a handful of orthodox-ish students altogether, but they are pretty much all friends and do holiday/shabbos stuff together often.

Or are there many Jews at all? Iranian Jews?

There are supposedly altogether between 2,000-3,000 Jews at UCSC, but only a tiny fraction of them are involved in the Jewish community. There are indeed some Iranian Jews, but I think UC Berkeley has a lot more of them.

Hows shabbat and stuff?

I live in one of the only kosher/shomer-shabbos houses in town, and we often host shabbos lunches at our place, but also the Chabad House hosts excellent Shabbos dinners and lunches. Sometimes we host third meals, as well. For Shabbos day, the other Chabad house usually has davening, but I think they don't often get a minyan. Other than that, there's nothing else orthodox-ish in town, really.

And Santa Cruz itself, hows the community? City Life? Oo and weather!

The community has a reputation of being very liberal, but over the years more and more people are moving in from Silicon Valley, so it's kind of becoming more wealthy/conservative I guess. But in general, Santa Cruz is known as one of the best surfing locations in the US. It has great beaches, great hiking, nice bars and music venues. Oh, one of the main sucky things is that there is not a single kosher restaraunt or kosher market in town. The closest ones are about 40 minutes away.

It's often cool in Santa Cruz, and very rainy during winter, and sometimes it snows, but very rarely. In the summer it's pretty hot, but it cools down at night.

I hope that helps. If you want any more info or to be connected with some people in the community, email jewniproj@gmail.com and I'll be happy to oblige.

Mon Dec 25, 05:08:00 AM 2006  

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