Tzahal - öäì
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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This is the place!
Review some of the basic parts of the Israeli Army; Stress the impact that Tzahal has on every Jew.
Tzahal is a Hebrew abbreviation for “Tzva Hagana L’Yisrael”, which literally means the Israeli Defense Force. Tzahal is known as one of the best armies in the world, and has defended
Tzahal is composed of people from two major sources:
Draftees – All Israeli men at the age of 18 are drafted into the army for 3 years. All Israeli women are drafted at age 18 for 2 years (with exceptions for both.)
Reservists – All Israeli men serve in the reserve army from the conclusion of their regular army service until age 55. Usually, reservists serve for one month out of the year.
Steal the Tzahal Unit: Instead of numbers, use the names of some of the divisions of Tzahal: Golani, Tzanchanim, Givati, Cheil Avir, Nachal, Shirion, Totchanim, and Cheil Hayam.
Put an object in the middle of the room and assign each person to a team. On each team there should be one person that has that specific tzahal unit name. (Everyone should have at least one name, if there aren’t an even number of people assign one person on the smaller team two names). Then call each tzahal unit into the middle to get the object and bring it back to their side of the room without the opposing teammate tagging them.
Story: Battle Time Bar Mitzvah
“One more game, Hotshot,” Zvi pleaded.
“Sorry, I’ve got to go. Another time, Champ,” Uri answered, tossing the basketball to his best friend. He had to shower and get dressed for Shabbat in time to go to the synagogue with his father.
Uri rarely had a chance to be alone with his father, a busy
Uri knew better than to ask why. Unlike his friends’ parents who loved to tell stories about their pasts, Uri’s father did not like to talk about his in
“You’re always talking about the Bar Mitzvah,” Uri’s sister Orna complained during dinner that evening. “Maybe I’ll get some attention when it’s over.”
“That won’t be long now,” Mother comforted her. “Rosh Hashana is next week and the Bar Mitzvah is on Sukkot, about two weeks later. It’s the first Shabbat after Yom Kippur.”
The Michaelis had decided to put up a sukka this year, in honor of the Bar Mitzva. Their apartment had a balcony perfect for a sukka, but they had never thought about building one before. Dr. Michaeli had bought a metal frame for the sukka and had promised to build it the night after Yom Kippur.
“Going to the synagogue with Dad, making Orna jealous, building a sukka- maybe this Bar Mitzva is worth all the trouble,” Uri thought to himself.
Of course, on the other hand, he did have to go to Mr. Berg’s house twice a week to practice reading the Haftorah. Mr. Berg was the father of one of Dr. Michaeli’s patients and had been hired to prepare Uri for his Bar Mitzvah. Uri’s reading was Zechariya 12, and it was difficult to understand. Mr. Berg explained that it was the prophet’s picture of the future, a prophecy.
“You’re not the only one who can’t understand it, Uri,” Mr. Berg told him again and again. “Scholars have been puzzling over it and arguing about its meaning for centuries.”
“What’s that to me?” Uri asked himself. He didn’t dare ask Mr. Berg that. Mr. Berg wasn’t much older than his father, but he seemed to have been around for centuries.
Rosh Hashana passed, and the day of the Bar Mitzva approached. After Uri’s reading in the synagogue, his parents were planning a family dinner and a big party. When he entered the synagogue on the evening of Yom Kippur he pictured himself the star of a great performance the following week.
“Dr. Michaeli,” he said. “Report to your unit.”
At first Uri did not understand the words. His father leaned over to him.
“I’ve got to go into the army. It’s probably nothing. It must be a holiday alert. Tell Mother and Orna that I left. I’ll phone as soon as I get a chance.”
Uri’s mother and sister did not see Dr. Michaeli leave. When they came downstairs after the service, they were alarmed to find him missing.
“Dad was called up,” Uri explained. “He said it’s probably nothing.”
But when the air raid sirens blasted on Yom Kippur Day, Uri was only half-surprised. Something in his father’s voice had warned him that this was more than a routine call-up.
Within minutes of the sirens’ blasts the streets were filled with men seeking transportation to their units.
Dr. Michaeli called that evening, just managing to say he was going “somewhere” and he would get in touch soon.
It was school vacation, but Uri and his classmates volunteered for the squad that painted car headlights blue so that they would conform to the blackout rules. There were garbled reports of tank and air battles. Uri tried to enforce the government call for confidence at his home.
“Dad would be building the sukka if he were home,” Orna said.
The sukka. Uri thought a minute and phoned Zvi. Could he come over? Something important.
The two boys worked until 2 am. When they finished, a colorful, leaf-covered hut stood on the Michaeli’s balcony.
“I’ve never done anything like that before,” Zvi confessed. “I bet we could do it more easily now that we know how. We can go into the sukka business,” he smiled.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Uri said.
“Are you kidding? Go into the business? How could we do that?”
Uri suggested that they advertise as sukka builders, offering their services to other families in which the father was not around to build the sukka. In the morning they found there were not the only people with the idea. They joined a crew of children who answered requests for sukkot.
At one home, an old couple who had expected their son to help them wanted to give the boys money. Their son was away driving a tank.
“Give to the Soldiers’ Fund,” the boys suggested, not wanting to embarrass the older people.
The question of what to do about his Bar Mitzvah remained. Mrs. Michaeli cancelled the party but wondered if Uri should have his Bar Mitzvah with his father away. She wanted to discuss it with her husband, but he had not called again and she was worried.
Uri thought he would cancel the whole Bar Mitzvah, but something told him that this was the wrong thing to do. He announced to his mother that he would read the Haftorah in the synagogue. He would prepare the rest alone because Mr. Berg was also in the army, but he would go on.
Orna, his mother, cousins, and friends sat in the synagogue on Saturday when Uri was called to read. He walked to the platform and his voice shook a little as he recited the blessings. There was one moment when he almost laughed as he thought of Mr. Berg in a soldier’s uniform. His voice got stronger as he got through the Haftorah reading.
“Behold, a day of the Lord comes,” he read, “when thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”
Uri realized that he was understanding the verses for the first time.
“And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have warred against Jerusalem.”
With that he uttered a silent prayer for his father’s safety in the army.