Eyal, USA

June 22, 2011

Hey Itay,

I am a 16 year old from Philadelphia, both my parents are Israeli and I am extremely interested in Matkal, Shaldag, or 669. I know the chances of anyone getting in are slim, but despite that I have a strong conviction and I know I can pass the Gibush… But I do have a couple of questions 1. Is security clearance an issue (both my parents are Israeli, all my family lives in Israel, I have been there countless times for summers, ect…) 2. Is there any way that I can prepare myself for the gibbush mentally… after all it is easy to get in shape. 3. What would a day in the gibbush for Matkal/Shaldag/669 be like 4. Would you suggest a shnat sheirut to acclimate to Israel? 5. What unit were you in yourself?

Eyal,

It seems to me that you are treating your preparation for the IDF very seriously, and that is a good sign. Your chances of reaching Matkal, Shaldag, or 669 are still slim, but at least you past the first test, and that is understanding that serving in one of these units is a complicated and tough assignment, and not something for everyone.

As for your questions:

1. Security clearance is an issue, and you must be approved before enlisting to a Special Forces Unit, but I don’t think that living abroad should have any effect on your score.

2. I have one tip for your mental preparation: In any case, no matter how hard you train physically, during the “Gibush” you’ll eventually reach a point in which you won’t be able to continue physically. That’s why your mental readiness is so essential to passing the “Gibush”. In order to overcome the total exhaustion that certainly awaits you, you have to be a very special person, and that is something that you can not prepare for.

My tip is that before you go to the “Gibush” try to understand why is it you want to join these units so much. Dig deep into your consciousness and figure out what drives you. That way, when you find yourself weak and tired, you can try to remember what’s your motivation and gather the strength you need from within.

3. The day begins usually very early, and consists of many physical and mental tests. During the entire day you are always under pressure, because you need to complete every task in a short time. There is no time for resting or sleeping, and only when you have your meals can you relax a little. A great portion of the day is dedicated to group tasks, in which you’ll have to work together with your friends as a team. Try to show some leadership, but don’t be too loud or annoying. In other times you can find yourself crawling or running up a dune for a couple of hours.

As far as I remember there is no time for showers, phone calls or stuff like that, but if you get a few free minutes try to use them wisely (resting, checking your gear, changing your sox and underwear etc). The days during the gibush are very long, so be patient. Try to do everything as best as you can, but keep your strength for later, if possible. A gibush is a bit like the TV show Survivor – you never know what surprises await ahead.

4. I think a shnat sherut is a great idea, not just for acclimation but also because you’ll surely have a lot of great experiences during this year, and you will learn a lot not only about Israel but mainly about yourself.

5. Sorry, but I’m not supposed to say which unit I was in.

Good luck,

Itay

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