Making the Most of the Freedom

And here we are, my military journey truly is coming to an end. Who would have thought that firstly this stage would come where I am writing about the last few weeks of my service. Mostly I feel in impressed shock that I managed to kee61836114_2316261895359335_8212077456790650880_n.jpgp the blogs going all this time and taking the time to flick through everything I have written from the start of the rollercoaster until now, it really is incred62066462_333796503975233_5796472727216848896_nible to be reminded of everything I have been through, the great times, the tough times and each and every experience. Despite the part of me that still feels the pain that I did not get to truly make the most of my service and that is gutted this journey had to end prematurely, I am starting to be able to see the excitement that comes with getting released. My official release date and the day I cut my army ID card in half is on 10th June so until then I do not have to be on base and I am essentially on vacation, which means I have had my last day in uniform. 

Three week62047924_601338770362484_732863631359737856_ns ago, the realisation that I was so close to getting released kicked in as I spent a week waking up each morning at 5am in order to travel from Jerusalem to Rehovot for a course in which we are split into groups and ess61617844_325394898156098_5034349266080890880_n.jpgentially taught how to live in the real world. The week is from Sunday to Thursday ending each day at about 4pm and the lessons range from learning how to pay bills and taxes to practicing how to behave during job interviews. A lot of the time we felt like we were sitting in a therapy session due to the way the week was carried out and much of the time it was boring. Luckily I was with a lot of friends I hadn’t seen since I first drafted so it was a great time to catch up with people and we even found the time to head to the beach one evening. The course happened to fall during t

61771660_315790539350895_8814439855481159680_nhe week of the intense heatwave that hit Israel with temperatures reaching close to 50 degrees celsius in some parts of the country.   

The week following the course, I had to go to my normal base near the city of Ariel where I had to61625476_681208062318386_7129653459481001984_n return half of my equipment that I had signed onto when I first finished training. In theory this could have taken a total of half an hour to return everything and get all of the right forms signed by the right people. However this is the Israeli army we are talking about so after about 7 hours on base, I 61526770_660103481121579_8796641098689675264_nfinally got out although I was told I had to go back again two days later to somehow return the equipment that had been stolen from me when I was on leave after my surgery. In a panic not to receive a fine for the missing equipment, I went on a scavenger hunt around Jerusalem until the early hours of the morning hunting down kind soldiers or ex-soldiers who were willing to donate various pieces of equipment to me. Luckily I managed to collect everything and quickly returned it all to base before finally being sent off for freedom.

61073059_453496102120052_5865205965028065280_nSince the61741198_1325393700972235_6282538655756058624_nn, I have been very busy seeing friends and family in Israel, meaning I have barely had a moment to myself although it has been lots of fun so far. I went to a spring that I didn’t know existed about ten minutes out ofcentral Jerusalem with a couple of friends from base who happened to be out for the day. Two weeks ago a few friends and I travelled to a spring about an hour out of Jerusalem called the Yarkon Springs where we relaxed under the hot sun and there was even a rope swing there. That weekend, I got to spend on my old kibbutz along with several others who used to live

61685183_2752820191400659_2830692625579769856_n.jpg there. It was a really enjoyable Shabbat and I was welcomed by my 61792119_450036048901471_7099639626721132544_nhost family and friends as though I had never even left. Just this past week, I travelled to Herzliya where I went through a day of intense career tests, which I was able to participate in for free due to my status of a lone soldier. It was a long, challenging day with all sorts of tests varying from maths to english to art, which made me realise that it really has been far too long since I sat in a classroom to learn somet62061461_2385798058144801_2065574270863409152_nhing academic!

This Shabbat I hosted a meal for lunch on Saturday with some friends from the area, which went really well and made us feel very mature, which I guess we are now?! Yesterday I received my final pay check from the army so I think that means I should probably get out there and find a job soon but before I get stuck into all that fun stuff of actually going out to earn money and sort out my life, I plan on taking the time in the next few months to travel and enjoy myself. The plan for the upcoming few months begins tomorrow with a hike that I am taking with two friends, which involves wa61629617_1090837234459220_8310365893574000640_nlking from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. In the current high temperatures it should definitely be a challenging hike but nonetheless we are all very excited. It’s ironic that after an army service spent complaining about all the marches and the walking, we are actually choosing to walk even more! 

In just over two weeks, on the 18th June, I am due to fly home to England for about a month, which will be my first return home as an ex-combat soldier and I plan on making the most of the time to see friends and spend time with all my love61784441_628866620957802_6188478661520261120_nd ones! I am really excited for this trip and look forward to seeing you all very soon! Please let me know if and when you are around so we can catch up!

This is me possibly writing up my last ever blog post unless I decide to do something equally if not more interesting next year…. I’m fairly certain my adventures are only just beginning…

Ronit Prais, almost-released, artillery, combat soldier.

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Plans for the Future

I spent the festival of Passover at the house of my cousins in Zichron, which involved a fun and relaxing two days catching up with them and despite it being Passover, enjoying lots of very tasty meals! As the festival is about a week long, after the weekend, I headed back to base, although I luckily managed to catch a ride with a friend who lives in Zichron. That week on base despite being very short as we left to go home on

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Wednesday, was not so fun because there was hardly any food to eat! The most interesting part of my time spent on base was helping to guard over some guys we had arrested for being involved with the terrorist group, Hamas.

Leaving base on Wednesday, before I even headed home to my apartment, I went to meet my grandparents with my cousin, Gideon before we all went out for supper. It was really good spending time with them. I finally arrived at my apartment at about 10pm before a friend from Engla59305791_818931865145490_4917849553782177792_nnd dropped by for a catch up. The following day I made the all to familiar journey from Jerusalem to my old Kibbutz, which I moved out of about two months ago. I spent last w59039453_590395614802380_2405627297206894592_neekend and the last few days of Passover there and it was a lot of fun but also sleeping in my old room and going to my host family for meals, I felt as though I had never moved away. Finally after the long festival of not eating any bread ended, we ordered burgers to the kibbutz, which was a perfect way to end the festival. We also watched a documentary about a man who free-climbed the vertical rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, meaning he climbed it without any ropes or p59576574_301753097407981_2033973426212831232_narachute at all. It seems to me like a crazy, absurd thing to do but it definitely inspired me to get out into nature and do something wild. 

On Sunday when I was waiting with my friends for the bus to take us to base, I received a phone call from the army telling me they were bringing me a cupboard for my clothes the following day to my apartment. After requesting permission to leave in order to be at home to let them in, I found myself leaving base on Monday morning less than 24 hours after having arrived for the week.

59402220_406733903254979_1836936982555525120_nDue to finding myself with a lot of spare time on my hands, I have been able to devote myself to easing myself into working out and increasing my fitness once more. Since the surgery I have found it difficult to do many physical exercises without experiencing excruciating pain in my shoulder. I have begun lifting light weights and doing certain exercises although I may have slightly overdone it this week and am now feeling the effects.

Over the past week on base, I began doing some59462798_286228988932443_736481402572242944_nbasic studying for the psychometric exam that is required for applying to most university courses in Israel and it felt good to be finally using my brain after two years lacking in mental stimulation. I also began to think about my post army plans, which so far involve flying home to England for a few weeks, going to Italy to visit a school friend and going on a month long backpacking trip around Vietnam. Immediately after my release, m58784942_350781089118472_4932860881093525504_n-e1556815658768.jpgy best friend from nursery is coming to Israel for a few days, which I am really excited about. In the days leading up to my release date, I receive a bit of time of vacation days and so I plan on doing the famous hike called yam l’yam (sea to sea), which is a hike of approximately 90km that can be done across 3-5 days and takes you from the Mediterranean sea to the Sea of Galilee, meaning you cross from one side of Israel to the other. 

In the long term, before I 57098936_523181721545641_7039537413454036992_nhopefully begin studying in University in September 2020, I would like to take 6 months or so to do some volunteering with Magen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent of the British Red Cross). This is incredibly important to me because due to my injury I do not feel as though I had the most meaningful military service and through being a part of the intense and life-saving work of MDA I think I can really make a difference and properly serve this amazing country. 

Last night to mark the beginning of Holocaust Memorial Day, I headed over with my fellow soldiers to the settlement that is right by our base where we joined with the civilians in a ceremony to mark the day. It was the strangest memorial I57099042_2104076229640937_1456719268895784960_n have ever been to as it involved individuals telling the stories of their parents and relatives however it was expressed through both a narrative and a visual reenactment. I felt it a bit over dramatic and felt as though I was in a theatre production but at the end I realised it had been done very tastefully and was actually a very professional way of marking the day. Right at the end I found it most meaningful and I found myself feeling a bit emotional as I felt the sense of pride standing amongst everyone with my beret on my head singing the Israeli National Anthem followed by the very meaningful song ‘Ani Maamin’ (‘I believe’). This weekend I have made plans to spend Shabbat with a friend from training so I spent a few hours today cooking – it is nice to be able to cook for Shabbat in my own kitchen!

Today I received my Teudat Lochem, which is a card that goes alongside your normal army identity card to show that you are a combat soldier. It also means I can travel for free on buses without the need to be wearing my full uniform so in the vacation days before my release I can travel on normal clothes! Despite finishing all of my combat training, I feel as though I am not fully deserving of this card and I am still disappointed and I think also in denial that my short military journey is coming to an end.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you all have a very good, relaxing weekend!

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.

Email – rprais@outlook.com

Missing everyone back at home in England, please let me know if you’re planning a trip to Israel as I’d absolutely love to see you.

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס

 

Coming to a Standstill

Three weeks have passed since I last posted a blog update and this is due to two simple reasons. The main one being that it has not been a particularly exciting time recently and the second reason is that not doing much seems to have made me quite lazy. 

57274445_433293897420422_7315788524521783296_nJust today during a meeting with the מג׳׳ד (commander of battalion), I was made aware that my request to sign on more time and do a slightly longer army service has been denied. He told me that he knows how much I want to sign and he also would happily allow m57821898_2148014868630451_6776557867295047680_n.jpge to but the decision is in the hands of those higher than him and due to my injury and lower medical profile, I am not being allowed to sign time and in the two months that I have remaining, I am not allowed to return to combat. The news that I cannot complete my army service as a combat soldier isn’t what I wanted to hear but at the same time, after really considering all of my options, I don’t think I am physically in a position where I can carry out my duty as a combat soldier and so it is really for the best, as devastating as it is. It was rather amusing to hear the מג׳׳ד (commander of battalion) summarise to me in the following exact words…

“pew pewאת לא יכולה לעשות שום דבר קשור ל”

“you can’t do anything connected to pew pew”

Despite the regular procedure being to send a soldier in my position to a job in the main גדוד (battalion), my מג׳׳ד (commander of battalion) is allowing me to stay with my סוללה (battery) to help out around the base, meaning although I cannot be sent on physical missions, I can do duties in the חמ׳׳ל (war room), which is essentially the room where all the phone calls and communications take place. I am beginning to accept that my service is coming to an end and not in the way I envisioned it happening although I am beginning to understand that the injury was not my fault and this is just the way things have unfortunately worked out. Now I have to start thinking about what I want to do when I get released in 53 days and how I am going to deal with real citizen life because I have been in the army almost from the mo57548451_324241904949862_3529168541154541568_nment I arrived in Israel.

In the past few weeks since I returned from my medical leave, whilst on base I have not been able to do much apart from waiting and requesting every day for a meeting with  the מג׳׳ד (commander of battalion), which I finally got this week. Since my medical profile has been lowered to a 45 and they were taking their time deciding what to do with me, I spent most of my time sitting around not doing much apart from twice a day57168302_372018580069540_5274795863321870336_n helping to clean up the base, which often involved lifting heavy things despite the whole reason for me not doing any physical missions being that I shouldn’t be using my shoulder to lift heavy things! It was certainly exciting to be back on base with everyone and I definitely did miss a lot of them so it was good to catch up with them. Despite spending a lot of time being bored up to the level of volunteering to help out in the kitchen, I managed to fill my time in ways such as playing football, going on a 4km run to the nearest town, Elkana (after not running for about three months), ordering food, sitting with friends and leaving ba57572688_2319947534943340_7225419650949971968_nse occasionally for physiotherapy and hospital check ups. I have even managed to take advantage of the few days of summer weather by going to the beach twice, although one time since I left base so late, by the time we got there it was quite cold. 

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If I haven’t quite managed to highlight quite how bored I have been recently, it reached a point where I was so bored on base that I even asked one of my friends to open my vein just for the sake of having something to do! After going to physiotherapy the day after only to find that there was nobody there due to it being election day, I didn’t want to go straight to base after a wasted day that I went to a Magen David Adom mobile blood bank to donate blood. It seems that I hadn’t eaten enough that morning and after fainting three times following the blood donation, I headed ba57606662_1140691549437938_6434373901517586432_nck to base after the most interesting day I had had in 57253422_657532471355246_5789016255969099776_n.jpga while! Last weekend, my friends Lucy Benjamin arrived in Israel for a holiday and I was lucky enough to get to spend all Shabbat with her! After a beach trip on Thursday afternoon, we spent Friday preparing lots of Shabbat food and that night for the first time since we moved into our new Jerusalem apartment, all three room mates were home together for Shabbat. We invited a few other fr57467967_1050616721801458_2349018743482351616_niends over and despite the chicken being slightly on the raw side of things, it was a really good evening. The next day we walked to a friend’s house for another great meal and the afternoon was spent hanging out on our large, open balcony eating cold, fresh watermelon under the scorching sun! 

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After arriving on base late on Sunday after physiotherapy in the morning, I arrived in time for a gathering for lone soldiers in the battalion in celebration of the festival of passover and the מג׳׳ד (commander of battalion) gave a short speech and we received gifts of a camping m57541782_853027668376769_8446264212212154368_n.jpgat, some towels and a pillow. On Tuesday I had a 12 week check up at the hospital for my shoulder and I was happy to hear everything is progressing well. Wednesday began with an early start as I left base with two other lone soldiers from my סוללה (battery) and we headed to Binyamina Train Station where we met up with all of the lone soldiers in the חטיבה (brigade) for a fun day. It started with outdoor team building activities, which was actually really funny, especially since I was in a group with lots of Americans I had met during basic training from other גדודים (battalions) , followed by a museum tour in Zichron Yaakov before arriving at a Totchanim base for another lone soldier gathering where we re57319809_433621370776632_3335911071717261312_nceived more gifts and this was led by the מח׳׳ט (commander of the whole brigade). The day ended with a ceremony fo57131080_818797028492236_5813259039957581824_nr soldiers that were being recognised for excellency, which was really interesting to watch and since it was an event mostly for very high ranking officers, it was a high standard of sophistication and there was amazing food. 

I arrived home today and now I need to help clean up my whole apartment for the festival of Passover, which begins tomorrow. I am very lucky my two room mates did the majority of cleaning so all that remains for me to do is my own room and a few other parts of the flat before I travel up North to Zichron Yaakov to spend the weekend with my cousins.

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Email – rprais@outlook.com

57232252_2298454363552143_2730961595181039616_nMissing everyone back at home in England, please let me know if you’re planning a trip to Israel as I’d absolutely love to see you.

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס

 

The Part They Don’t Talk About

Nearly nine weeks since my shoulder ligament repair surgery and I am starting to feel like I am entering into a stage of normal usage of my right arm, which is something I was starting to think I would never experience again. I am able to move it into pretty much any position at any angle and although certain things hurt more than others54524482_581780942307615_3159185889179992064_n, the fact is I have the ability. From now, the challenge is to begin to strengthen the muscles, through a continuation of intense physiotherapy. I have already reached a point of being able to smash out some decent sets of push ups, which is definitely a good sign!

Before my mum flew back to England after spending a good length of time with me in Israel, I was lucky enough to head toan Open Day at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I spoke with a few students and had the opportunity to sit in a lecture given by the Psychology Department. I thoro54731023_418527988910144_3443850660791975936_nughly enjoyed the lecture and am over-the-moon to be able to say that I actually understood a good 99% of what was being said, despite it all being in Hebrew! It is definitely a possibility that I will be starting University in September 2020 in Israel but I am still very much undecided and confused! The last few days with my mum were lots of fun and involved eating lots of good food and just generally enjoying having a mum around!

Over the past few weeks, I have been able to become more familiar with the area that I live in, even discovering some quiet spots of natural beauty just a short walk away fr55759890_1670543233091377_8973193645016481792_nom my apartment. In the Summer, I can already envision h55669497_261421341279258_7981304182462218240_neading out and reading books in the sun or sitting and chatting with friends – it’s just a shame the rain is still sticking around for the time being. We were lucky enough to have one day in the middle of the week where all three of us were home and it was a fairly warm evening so we sat out on the balcony with sna56169737_357762154828511_8203278443190681600_ncks and blankets and watched a movie under the night sky with fairy lights all around – it really was a movie moment!

After having another medical check up with the army, it was decided that I would return to base on Sunday 24th March (yesterday) however due to recent events and change of plans, I was told that my return was 55833027_837099383303386_2085735478711025664_nbeing pushed off by another week, meaning I am now due to go back to base on Sunday 31st March. Unfortunately I am still in the dark about which job I will be receiving however I have an idea in mind of what I would like to request and if everything goes according to my plan, I will be in a position that is as close to what I was doing prior to the surgery and I will hope to be allowed to sign on more time too, with the intention of being released in December at the earliest. I will hopefully know more about what is going on once I get back to base in 6 days.

I have decided that I definitely want to sign on more time if I will be allowed to because although I was originally unsure, a recent shock made up my mind. On Sunday 17th March, at about 9:45am, we heard rumours that there had been a shooting at Tzomet Ariel. This is a junction where my platoon stand on guard to make sure everyone getting on and off buses is kept safe. After hours of uncertainty about who exactly was involved and the extent of the injuries, it was understood that one soldier had been murdered at Ariel Junction and another was seriously injured at a junction further along called Tzomet Gitai, in a critical condition in hospital. As the situation unfolded and we were able to piece together what had happened, we realised that the name of the murdered soldier was Gal Keidan. Gal Keidan was a very good friend of mine from the 8 month long training that I completed before officially becoming a combat artillery soldier. Shock ran through us all and it all felt so unreal and impossible and still, over a week later, it does not feel like it really happened. Occurrences like this are always difficult to deal with and sad to think about but when the victim of such a vicious, inhumane act of terror is a good friend of yours, it really strikes you deep inside.

This is one part of army life that they do not talk about at the enlistment offices.

I wrote a letter to Gal as a way of sorting out the mess of emotion and confusion in my mind and it released something inside me that assisted in making sense of the shock. The letter55600731_281866982749764_7342700248432640000_n is below in both Hebrew (as originally written) and a translation into English below.

גל קיידאן. היום, בערך 24 שעות אחרי שאיבדנו אותך, את המלך שלנו, קברנו אותך. נתנו לך לנוח בבאר שבע בבית שלך. מאז ששמעתי את החדשות לא הפסקתי לחשוב עליך אבל גם לא הצלחתי באמת להוציא את כל מה שהרגשתי בפנים. הרגשות היו תקועים בתוך הגוף שלי. חשבתי לעצמי אתמול, למה אני לא בוכה יותר. אבל היום, שעמדתי בבית עלמין צבאי בבאר שבע וראיתי את ארון הקבורה שלך עובר מול עיניי, הרגשתי הכל ברגע אחד. בכיתי בשבילך היום גל מכל הלב שלי. סיפרו לי על איך היית גיבור בדקות האחרונות שלך ואני לא מופתעת בכלל כי ככה היית כל החיים שלך, בכל קושי נלחמת כמו תותח אפילו עד הסוף. ספרו לי איך שהיה לך מבואס שלא היינו באותו בסיס ב4 חודשים האחרונים ואיך שהתרגשת לבוא אליי המוצ”ש הזה ואני אומרת לך עכשיו… אני הרגשתי אותו דבר. הלוואי והייתי יכולה להרים טלפון עכשיו רק לשמוע את הקול שלך. אני עמדתי והסתכלתי עליך אולי שעה ותאמין לי גל אם הייתי יכולה, הייתי עומדת שם לידך כל דקה וכל יום כדי שלא תהיה לבד. אני אבוא לבקר אותך כמה שאפשר, מתחילים ממחר אבל בינתיים השארתי את הכומתה שלי אצלך שתדע שאני תמיד חושבת עליך כלוחם אמיתי וחבר הכי טוב שהייתי יכולה לבקש. זה גם תזכורת קטנה של כל פעם שניסית לגנוב לי את הכומתה באימון מתקדם . בכל מקום שאני הולכת, אני רואה את הפנים שלך עם החיוך הגדול שלך ואז אני מסתכלת שוב ומבינה שזה לא אתה. אני יודעת שלא היית רוצה שנבכה כל כך הרבה אבל זה כואב יותר מדי גל. כואב שאני לא יכולה לראות אותך, לדבר איתך, לצחוק איתך. כואב לי שהעולם ממשיך ואנשים לא מבינים כמה שכואב. תמיד מתגעגעת, מלך שלנו54729397_673644243052707_1055591017329197056_n

Gal Keidan. Today, about 24 hours after we lost you, our king, we buried you. We allowed you to rest in beer sheva, in your home. Since I heard the news I have not stopped thinking about you but really I also couldn’t get out everything I was feeling inside. The emotions were trapped inside my body. I thought to myself yesterday, why am I not crying more. But today, I stood in the military cemetery in beer sheva and saw your coffin pass by in front of my eyes, I feel everything in one moment. I cried for you today Gal from all my heart. They told me how you were a hero in your last minutes and I am not surprised because that you were your whole life, you fought through every difficulty, even until the end. They told me how you were bummed out that we weren’t on the same base for the past 4 months and how you were excited to come to mine this coming Saturday night and I’m telling you now, I felt the same. I wish I could pick up the phone just to hear your voice. I stood and looked at you for maybe an hour today and believe me Gal, if I could, I would stand there next to you every minute of every day so that you would not be alone. I will come to visit you as much as possible starting from tomorrow but meanwhile I left my beret with you so that you will know that I am always thinking about you 55587640_570126940166147_3771210997918859264_nas a real warrior and the best friend I could’ve asked for. It is also a small reminder of every time you tried to steal my beret in advanced training . Everywhere I go, I see your face and your big smile and then I look again and I understand it’s not you. I know that you would not want us to cry so much but it hurts too much Gal. It hurts that I can’t see you, speak with you, laugh with you. It hurts that the world carries on and people don’t understand how much it hurts.

I always miss you, our king. ❤️

Although I am beginning to come to terms with what has happened, the thought of Gal is constantly in my mind and I will never forget what an exceptional friend, and real warrior he was. He is always going to be present even if not physically.

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It has been a tough past week but everyone has really come together and despite the details of the terror attack, the importance of people has really struck me alo55764219_564526227381208_4546428186547716096_nng with the extent of kindness of the human heart. It was the Jewish festival of Purim this past week and since I was understandably not in a particularly wild mood, I headed to my old Kibbutz where we had a relatively relaxed evening chatting and being in each other’s company. On Saturday evening, we had some friends over in place of what was supposed to be54522760_282144482686163_5137644578169421824_n a moving in party. We considered cancelling the event in light of recent events but since Gal was supposed to have been there, we decided to go ahead with it with him very much in mind. It is also a very important time for people to be together so that is exactly what we did and I know it was helpful for multiple people to have 55549664_564740957370936_1831438612667826176_nthat time to breathe a bit with others who understand the pain.

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Email – rprais@outlook.com

Missing everyone back at home in England, please let me know if you’re planning a trip to Israel as I’d absolutely love to see you.

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס

 

My First Apartment

It’s been about three and a half weeks since I last wrote up a blog post and about six weeks since I had my shoulder operation to fix a torn ligament after a train53160330_2267932086805885_2670078921931751424_n.jpging injury. Despite not being on my base with my platoon for a very long time, a lot of important and exciting things have happened to me, some of which involved making very significant decisions. A few months ago my room mate from my kibbutz and myself began to talk about possibly looking to move together away from the kibbutz to a new apartment. We only briefly mentioned this to each other and began to look around for openings in apartments. It was very lazy searching and we did not put a huge amount of effort into it as we were not quite ready to move away from53218898_350805175775860_3268386613796798464_n the kibbutz yet and we didn’t even know which city we wanted to relocate to. We were scrolling through apartment listings in Jerusalem online and came across a really nice three bedroom apartment within our budget and as I happened to be going to Jerusalem the next day, we decided to contact the landlord and have a look around.

Upon arriving I found another female lone soldier checking it out and instantly we both fell in l53092787_409091449660574_7242590281659318272_nove with the place and it turned out she was looking for two room mates – it was all too perfect! The landlord was insistent that first come first served and he was willing to hold the apartment for us for 5 days but after that if someone else came along wanting to sign the contract, he 53879227_396683244475533_2669168818361729024_nwould give it to them. After some discussing and a phone call to my kibbutz room mate who was on base, we agreed to sign the contract to begin from just a few days later. It all happened so fast and then it hit me that I had to tell my all my loved ones on the kibbutz that I was leaving… Despite not wanting to have to move so fast, this apartment really was an amazing opportunity that we could not afford to miss out on.  Back on kibbutz, I told my host family and other friends that I was moving out and explained that I really did love living on the kibbutz and would miss them all greatly but the time had come to move on. I was craving the Jerusalem scene where there are more things to do and lots more p53410281_255982322014770_4450563232305774592_n.jpgeople to meet. It was also important to me to have my own space which means having a kitchen that I don’t need to go outside to get to and being able to store my things in a clean environment. I know I will miss having people right out52914686_304056596924944_3989434983398768640_nside my door if I am bored and I loved having my friends wandering past my door and stopping in for a chat but it was time to move on. Moving on also means suddenly having to worry about bills and doing my own laundry and making sure there is always food in the fridge, but these are all important things to start to have to take care of myself and I am excited at the prospect.

53581830_396534111134691_7528326785050607616_nThe move over has had it’s ups and downs and has been pretty stressful at times but people have been incredibly helpful and supportive, family and friends and also my commanders from the army. I was lucky enough to have three of my commanders drive me from the kibbutz to the apartment on one of their vacation days from the army in order to transfer all of my things, including carrying everything up the three flights of stairs, which I really really appreciated. Since the apartment was totally empty when we moved in as it had just been refurbished, we have been relying on donations from kin53668509_307591909951042_1526308996200267776_nd people. So far we have received new double beds, a new microwave, a second hand toaster oven, a kettle, a closet, a narrow shelving unit, a television screen, a washing machine, a fridge, an oven, a gas stove and a table and chairs…53524762_402775740550739_564603958211903488_n Sofas and clothes closets are still being tracked down! There is still a lot of work to be done but each day it starts to look more like home…

Alongside the move, I have been keeping up with my physiotherapy, travelling three times a week to abase in Jerusalem. Since I have still been struggling to sleep due to the intense pains, I received a very strong painkiller called Tramadex, which I was taking for a week before it stopped working and I was told to take a double dose instead, which I did for the first time last night. I can safely say it takes you to another world, the only negative being the feeling the next day of extreme dizziness and seeing black like you are going to faint every time you stand up or move your head… Due to the terrible side effects, I have been through a period of trialling different medications after finally concluding that 25 drops of Tramadex is right for me, I have realised three and a half weeks on a narcotic drug is not a good idea so I am starting to try to take drops of Optalgin instead. 

I was lucky enough to have my parents come over to Israel in order to be there for the weekend spent in Eilat with nearly all of my dad’s side of the family as a surprise for my G53296975_390942835030283_422677305081462784_nrandma’s 80th birthday. It was great weather, a fantastic hotel and53528452_2233528690230689_4656039007526846464_n a lot of fun to see the shock onher face when she turned up to a Friday night dinner with 25 members of the family instead of just 8 like she had expected. On the Saturday night, we travelled out into the desert for a session to learn about the stars, which was really interesting. On Sunday my dad travelled back to England whilst m53421853_586931561774547_1751005682078842880_ny mum and I stayed in the hotel until Tuesday before we took the 5 hour bus ride from Eilat to Jerusalem.53560133_2301975496690604_6612144229986598912_n

Since arriving back in Jerusalem, my mum has been to see my new apartment and even stayed over for a night, giving herself the chance to clean my bathroom! I even spent last Shabbat at my aunt’s house to take part in surprising my other grandma (mother’s mother) for her birthday, which was a really special Shabbat and I am really glad I was able to make it. It has been lovely spending the past couple of weeks with my mum and a shame my dad had to fly back earlier for w54236864_573355446516343_2780817781711437824_nork. On Saturday evening, I headed out for dinner at תחנה ראשונה  (First Station) before heading to Machane Yehuda Market with a few friends (oh the joys of living in Jerusalem) where we stayed out until the early hours of the morning just sitting and chatting53465104_2321220147890093_3421485245663281152_n and enjoying the busy, exciting atmosphere of the city at night.

Overall the past few weeks have simply been a mess of unimaginable exhaustion, organising a million and one things in connection to theapartment, travelling an hour and a half in each direction to physiotherapy almost every day, going out to buy food for the apartment and suffering the side effects of the medication, which really impacts my daily routine so much that it is becoming incred53406521_2027797553964631_165130703573352448_nibly frustrating. Last night for the first time in the past 6 weeks I was able to catch a solid 6 hours of sleep without waking up in pain at all and although it’s not amazing, it is definitely a good start. I am so incredibly thankful to the girls at ram 2 (the part of the army responsible for injured soldiers), who have worried about me and gone simply above and beyond to make sure everything was taken care of whether that be organising doctor appointments, making the relevant phone calls or shou53403593_330132750955456_4237242063663398912_nting at the people who need to be shouted at. 

A couple of weeks ago I had a וועדה רפואית (medical check) with a doctor in the army who wanted to release me from duty due to the nature of my surgery. I fought with him to let me stay until he agreed to give me a lower profile of 45 meaning I cannot be back in combat. In six months I will have the ability to request another meeting to consider raising the profile again. However, since I am supposed to be released anyway in 3 months, I must decide whether I want to sign on more time in the hope of returning to combat some day or if I should just let go, fight my pride and let them release me…

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Email – rprais@outlook.com

Missing everyone back at home in England, please let 54346777_855714904766157_7860341659840544768_nme know if you’re planning a trip to Israel as I’d absolutely love to see you.

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס

 

Stitched up Soldier

This blog post is taking somewhat longer to formulate than previous posts as a result of the temporary loss of use of my right hand due to the shoulder surgery that I finally underwent about half a year after injuring myself in training. On 17th January, I arrived to Shaarei Tzed50813586_630386827383727_5932373936367992832_nek Hospital in Jerusalem at 6:45am with my aunt in the pouring rain. After being signed in and receiving a hospital gown, shower cap type head covering, disposable socks and my personal favourite, the disposable underwear, I sat waiting to be taken off to the operating room. Before long, someone came along and drew a gian50835143_374404626719168_3892990109787619328_nt arrow on my right shoulder so that the surgeons would operate in the right place! After speaking to many different hospital staff from surgeons to nurses to porters, we were told the person who was supposed to enter before me was delayed so I was going into surgery next. Before I knew it, I was whisked off to the operating room where the surgeons were waiting for me. Within moments of the nurse putting the cannula into my arm and injecting the general anaesthetic, all my fears and anxiety of the anaesthetic not working were allayed as I felt my head spin into a deep state of unconsciousness.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room with an intense pain coming from my shoulder as well as an incredibly sore throat. After a confusing few hours of lying in bed not really sure what was going on or who was talking to me, I was discharged from the hospital and after finding a cafe in the hospital, I travelled to the home of my Aunt, Uncle and Grandma in Jerusalem. The n51174318_2342222929122147_2614802306285174784_next few days I stayed in Jerusalem recovering from the surgery. The shoulder pain was excruciating and made worse by the other parts they forget to mention before you have surgery. I’m referring to the headaches and the overwhelming nausea and the sore throat and the inability to sleep and the dizziness and everything else that is attached. Despite being sent off with pain medication, nothing seemed to work including the Percocet, which apparently is the strongest they could give me. Eventually nearly a week after the operation, I went home to my kibbutz, where I have been since.  In the past few days I have noticed a definite overall improvement in the shoulder pain and the nausea and dizziness have completely gone, which I am very relieved about. Although there are days still when the pain is unbearable, and I still haven’t been able to sleep a full night without waking up every hour or two hours from the pain since the surgery, overall there is an improvement. I also began physiotherapy this wee50849923_284013365586308_7251842362769408000_nk, which I must go to three times a week for the next few weeks. Just yesterday, I had the stitches removed from the three stitched up holes, which felt very strange but not particularly painful.

I am really appreciative of everyone who hastaken the time to come and visit me at home, offered to help in any way or even just sent me messages to check how I am feeling. I don’t find it so easy to accept help from51214101_2284424515106185_9155232522437656576_n people so it may seem like I am being ungrateful but I really do appreciate it. People ask me if I am bored being off the army but honestly I have not found myself yet with nothing to do.There are always people around to hang out with and running from appointment to appointment, I have never been at a loss of finding something to do. Next week I have a meeting where they will hopefully tell me what will happen to my medical profile and when I will be returning to the army. In theory I am being released from the army in June after returning from my recovery time in April. 51318434_301715867209648_5434879649609940992_n

However, the original plan was to sign on more time and finish either in December or even later than that. If they lower my medical profile, I won’t be able to continue incombat and I will have to find another job in the army or else they will place me somewhere boring in an office, which is certainly not what I want.

In other news, with all this free time I have found myself with recently, along with purchasing and beginning to teach myself to play the ukelele (probably not helping the recovery of my arm) I have begun the process of making Aliyah through the organisation Nefesh B’Nefesh so hopefully within the next few months I should receive my Israeli citizenship, which is very exciting!

51168175_2042721459098619_57722182909820928_nFor now despite the pain and frustration at not being able to carry out basic tasks just as tying up my own hair or needing help to get dressed, I am enjoying watching the cold weather being chased away by the sun and it has even been warm enough to sit outside for a few hours during the day. Tomorrow I am heading back to Jerusalem to have another session of physiotherapy where I will continue with exercises such as basic exercises to move the shoulder joint because at the moment even lifting it slightly in certain directions sends shooting pains like electric shocks through my arm whilst. I have made up my mind that I am going to really commit myself to the physiotherapy exercises in order to avoid ending up in a position where my shoulder will be permanently damaged because I didn’t treat it correctly during recovery.

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Email – rprais@outlook.com

Missing everyone back at home in England, please let me know if you’re planning a trip to Israel as I’d absolutely love to see you.

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס

Two Different Worlds

If you’re 49947773_780834025611304_2921329092793991168_nwondering why it’s been a while since you read one of my blogs, don’t worry, you didn’t miss one, I have just been having too much fun to write! Since I last wrote, I have been at home in England, turned 20 years old, taken part in a battalion exercise out in t49828882_1084205741750969_1955464692512063488_nhe field, gotten into a few arguments with my commanders and finally received a date for my surgery to fix a shoulder torn ligament. If we go all the way back to about two months ago, on November 15th, I was about to board the plane from Frankfurt, Germa50019027_829660904092728_7587299649552121856_nny to Birmingham, England. Eventually, I touched down in Birmingham and began to make my way to my house. It was certainly a strange experience for the first few days because everything felt so familiar but also so incredibly different. Since my parents were away on a cruise and wouldn’t be returning50014552_287911915251533_8752137820094595072_n for a few days I headed to Manchester the day after arriving to spend the weekend with my sister, brother in law and my beautiful nephew. I had a really good time and even managed to find time to catch up with some old friends before travelling back to Birmingham on Monday morning. In all honesty the couple of weeks that followed I found myself mildly bored, uninspired and as though I was stuck in a grey, unentertaining place at a loss of finding something to do. I wanted a50026273_326994938150909_789100069117755392_ndventure and people and to be wild and free but with everyone off at work or at university, there was simply nothing to do. So I began to arrange travelling to visit friends in various universities and for them to come to Birmingham to visit me. The rest of my month break included visits to my old High School where I was able to catch50720459_2260035207369693_4678145642286022656_n up with some of my teachers, which was really amazing to be able to update them on my life in person and to hear what they have been up to as well. The final two weeks of my trip were more exciting than the first as I went to see a lantern show in the Botanical Gardens with my best friend of 16 years, I travelled to Cardiff to see some friends there and I was able to celebrate my birthday with some amazing people. It was really special for me to see my old school50020361_345141112997679_6757740760872779776_n friends in their new environments and to see how they settled into their respective universities. I am very happy I had the opportunity to spend a month back at home in England and I had a lot of fun seeing almost everyone I intended to see and also just to grab a bit of time to really rest. However, the whole time I was in England, I couldn’t help missing what I had left behind in Israel. I feel like in Israel I can do anything I could dream of doing. Everything seems brightly coloured 50250692_327967581148439_318062643464110080_nand exciting and I just couldn’t find that same excitement and adventure in dull, grey England and so when it came 50560289_2237760649805116_1221740268101828608_nto flying back to Israel, of course I was sad to be leaving my family and friends but I was also slightly relieved to be returning. My route back to Israel was via Zurich, Switzerland and involved landed at 3:30am. As much as I love to travel and to fly, I can safely say that was the worst journey I have ever made. Boarding the plane with aminor cold and slight temperature, I could feel myself getting more and more ill by the minute with the pain in my head intensifying, my nose running like water out of a tap (sorry for the graphic details) and an inability to breathe so I felt like I was slowly being suffocated. Touching back down in England I was so desperate to be able to get back to my kibbutz and just go to sleep and when one of my friends offered to come out to get my suitcase at 4:30am I was so grateful. After trying and failing to sleep because my nose decided it didn’t want to let me breathe unless I was standing up, I wandered around until 7am when I eventually dropped off to sleep. With a temperature of 38.6 degrees, I spent most of Shabbat lying in bed and taking medication, which was not the way I had intended it.

On Sunday morning despite not feeling 100% I made my way to base although I got very lucky because I managed to grab a ride the full 3 hours from Kibbutz all the way to the entrance to my base in Ramat haGolan. It was so amazing to see everyone again and it’s a strange indescribable feeling spending 8 months at intensely close quarter to people at all hours of the day and then not seeing them for an entire month. Despite not originally being chosen to he50422597_2391238480903443_7868202570978689024_nad out into the field for our battalion exercise that was taking part that week, I volunteered to go and after a mess of being told I was doing this, then that, the not going at all, then going, I found myself heading out with the last group of soldiers in the early evening. The exercise was an intense 3 days of mud, stormy weather, sleeping outside in the bone-chilling cold and shooting rockets! Returning to base at the end of the exercise smelly, wet and exhausted, I grabbed the opportunity to jump in a hot shower before everyone else! Unfortunately because I still wasn’t feeling so well, I was unable to participate in the exercise as much as I would’ve liked and spent a lot of the time watching or sleeping on the side – not ideal but I am glad I was at least out in the field with everyone. My most memorable part of the exercise was when it began to pour with rain one evening and since I had a temperature still I was told to sit inside one of the vehicles only to begin to experience drops of rain falling onto my leg and upon looking up realised this vehicle was not completely waterproof and there was no real escape from the rain.

Back on base I was told that I was closing the weekend on base to help with guard duties so despite not having enough clothes with me I embraced the experience. It started with carrying out a guard duty on Wednesday evening because the girl who was supposed to do it wasn’t feeling well and so I offered to switch her out for the shift. The guard duty shifts carried on until the start of the week after where I was sometimes doi49348333_329652231213177_5130990771884785664_nng shifts of four hours followed by four hours where you have to be in uniform incase there is a call for help somewhere, followed by four hours of rest before another guard duty. All in all it was a rather peaceful Shabbat and there was a good crowd of soldiers on the base with me so I enjoyed myself and it was especially fun guarding at the main entrance to the base during the day on Saturday because lots of families and parents come to bring food for their children who are on base for the weekend so most of the time there was someone

49947322_2002444896508869_1609717746419892224_nto talk to and food to eat, which makes the time pass a lot faster.

The following week was rather uneventful, although I did manage to get punished, argue with my commanders and in the end it all worked out quite well, as always. After leaving base straight after Shabbat because I had an appointment in Jerusalem early morning on Sunday, I arrived to Kibbutz at 12:30am, showered, sorted out my laundry and finally went to sleep at 3am before getting up at 6am and travelling to Jerusalem at 7am. The day was spent rushing around Jerusalem and from floor to floor in the hospital, trying desperately to sort out my shoulder surgery. I was able to slide in visits to all my grandparents despite the lack of time andeventually I was on my way back up North to base. Arriving to base at about 7:30pm, I rejoined everyone until we were finally released to go to bed at about 11pm. As I was settling down to sleep, I received a call from my commander telling me I was switching out someone on guard duty from 2am until 6am, which obviously is not thebest news for a tired soldier to hear. After sleeping for about an hour, I got up and carried out theguard duty standing in the freezing cold, struggling to keep my eyes open, praying for the next person to arrive to switch me out. Eventually I reached the warmth of my bed at 6:30am and went to sleep being totally sure that I could now sleep until lunch because anyone who guards 2am until 6am is supposed to receive hours of sleep time during the day. However, at49947077_2446746472064159_1590080984143888384_n 7am, just half an hour after going to sleep, I was woken up and told I had to get up and could sleep afterwards. After standing around aimlessly until 9am, I finally went back to bed and after 3 hours, I was up for the day. The next morning, we were supposed to be up and ready at 5am after going to sleep at 12:30am but despite setting my alarm for 4:30am, I was so exhausted I legitimately did not hear my alarm and therefore upon seeing I was not up, my commander came over to wake me up and I received a punishment of having to return to base on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning.

After a relatively fun weekend on Kibbutz, involving a trip to the cinema on Friday to see the new Mary Poppins movie, I set out on the 6 hour trip up North and arrived on my base at about midnight. Since everyone was off base for the weekend and anyone who still had any remaining holiday days for the year was taking Sunday off, the base was rather empty so most of the time was spent not doing much at all. On Monday, I received permission to go to the funeral of Tzvika Levy who passed away on the Saturday before after battling with ALS. Tzvika Levy was a man who was known as “the father of lone soldiers” because he made his life’s work into helping and assisting lone soldiers as much as he co49348284_1407409186060493_4477501511999422464_nuld and I felt it was extremely important to go to the funeral and stand amongst thousands of people who had travelled from far and wide as a sign of respect for him.

I made the journey from the funeral,49947185_279887996029621_255970485949431808_n which was held up North, to the base we were heading to for the week, which is about 6 hours south of my old base.

On this base, we spent our days training for our upcoming season of guarding and patrolling on borders and near Arab villages. This training included lots of shooting practice (I shot with my left hand due to my injured rig50074620_1310118565806499_359794255109029888_nht shoulder), role play and learning how to deal with different situations that we may find ourselves in as well as group exercises out in the mountains. One thing I learnt is that shooting with your left hand with a right handed gun means you will get hit in the face with the very hot shells from the bullets, which will leave burn marks on your face…

The week was absolutely exhausting as result of the lack of sleep and intensely packed days however I can certainly say it was product50104915_141543060073547_2830475536457793536_nive, incredibly interesting and possibly even fun!

After the weekend, we were told to meet in Tel Aviv at the Camery Theatre where we were treated to a performance featuring some apparently well known actors and I can proudly say I understood a solid 85% of what was going on despite it being in Hebrew! From Tel Aviv, we travelled to a place called Kfar Nofesh, in Ashkelon where we were to begin a week of fun and recreation with the purpose of relaxing and bonding with the battalion. This place is a type of base, which contains a large indoor swimming pool, games and equipment including a ping pong table, amazing rooms each with an en suite bathroom and television, a shop on site where it is also possible t49898098_554332728383489_8572041736770027520_no buy hot food and organised activities that we were given the option to go to. There were still rules but the discipline was a lot softer meaning we were allowed to be 49666842_283585638946572_9018520139993186304_n-e1547550037163.pngon home clothes most of the time unless we were on guard duty. Each night ended with a party with a DJ until the early hours of the morning and I forgot to mention the site was overlooking the beach! Unfortunately, I was part of the group that had to leave on Tuesday at 6am in order to do guard duty on our previous base up North meaning that I missed out on a lot of the fun.

Whilst I was back up North, I received a phone call from the hospital in Jerusalem to tell me the date for my surgery has finally been confirmed for Thursday 17th January! It has been over half a50297789_607181209714884_1722355372586434560_n year since I became injured so this is brilliant news that I finally have a date and so the surgery will be happening just two days from now followed by a recovery period. After leaving from base on Thursday, I was told I needed to be back there on Sunday to do guard duties until Wednesday evening and after persuading my commander that I was having surgery on Thursday morning and I therefore did not see it fit for me to be travelling 9 hours around the country the day before, I was told I would be able to leave on Monday at midday.

So here I am back on my Kibbutz ready to go to Jerusalem tomorro50405211_2106433229402889_6868669398077407232_nw in preparation for my shoulder surgery on Thursday. I hope I did not bore you with the length of this blog and I can promise I will never again leave myself with 2 months worth of news to fit into one blog!

Please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on and if you are around and have some free time, it would be great to catch up!

Email – rprais@outlook.com

Number – +972 58 732 3434

Ronit Prais – רונית פרייס