On a recent trip outside of Jerusalem, Israel,
two IDF soldiers,
from high above the highway,
were watching over us.
The southern Israeli desert called the Negev
has been in the news this week.
Sadly, two lives were lost there,
and the details are still emerging.
On a recent trip to the Negev
we passed dozens of Bedouin encampments
like this one along the roadside.
Thousands of Bedouins live in hundreds of homes like these
that just “popped up” along side the Negev roads.
But I would rather share a new, special “village” with you,
an elite army training base named for Ariel Sharon.
Entering the grounds, a large
outdoor stadium is on the right side of road.
Near the entrance,
one of three synagogues sits on the main square.
The commander of the base, Colonel Avi Motola,
says he feels more like a mayor, with a budget and services
for 10,000 soldiers who are on the training base.
A map of the base, larger than some Israeli cities.
This slide shows the governing structure of the IDF and its branches
on this state-of-the-art consolidated training campus.
A convention center, pool, library and more are planned.
There are six dining rooms with huge kitchens to serve up meals.
This view from one central location
and another show the barren desert in background.
Desert lands take up a third of the country.
New infrastructure, such as roads, were built to benefit everyone.
Civilians work on the base, which helps the local economy.
The plan is for families to come and further develop
the surrounding Negev cities.
Inside the training center,
simulator rooms have sound and smoke
to prepare young soldiers for action.
Especially impressive are the areas to train medics.
On the ground covered by a “blood” stained blanket
is a dummy with equipment around the walls.
The window on right lets medical teams be supervised.
There are multiple rooms, reflecting the various terrains.
Training with artificial bodies and body parts
helps prepare efficient medical response teams.
With the shorter attention-spans of new recruits,
plus shorter terms of service,
new means of more effective education are crucial.
Basic training is three weeks,
the special courses can last from 3 weeks to 14 months.
Young soldiers learn to drive on these simulators.
The large truck dashboard and weather conditions
are two factors which can be programmed.
Outside were new plantings to landscape the campus.
One journalist on our trip commented on the relaxed
atmosphere of the base, so different to army life in China.
This is a perfect spot to sit in the shade and talk on phone.
As more young women are serving in IDF,
it was impressive to see their presence on the base.
Hope you enjoyed this brief look
into the training of new officers for the IDF.
Oh, the last words as you exit,
Go in peace.
In the month of Av,
especially on Tisha B’Av,
terrible things have happened.
Jerusalem was destroyed,
but the Jewish people have returned.
The military cemetery on Mt. Herzl,
is filled with graves of fallen IDF soldiers,
their birthdays celebrated with photos.
So many rows of young people who will not age.
Michael Levin z”l is one lone soldier
from the United States who died ten years ago,
and there too many more to mention.
As the memorial service for Michael Levin ended,
another began nearby.
When a soldier dies in battle,
it is said he has “fallen.”
Falling is the precursor to getting up.
There are too many soldiers who fell too young,
but have left us with a mission and legacy to fulfill.
We must get up and carry on where they left off.
May their memories be for a blessing.