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Your First Day in the IDF

By Kobi Epstein Benedek, WZO

The letter which states your induction date also lists an address in the city where you live (or one close by) where you have to meet. You will be taken by bus to Bakum, a base near Tel-Aviv.

Bakum is the name of the base where all soldiers are processed before being sent out to the various bases or units where they will eventually serve. It is here that you get your shots and uniform, and where you will start to get yelled at by temporary commanders ...

Do not bring sunglasses, you will not be allowed to wear them during basic training and sooner or later your temporary commander will yell at everybody wearing them. Otherwise, everything you go through at Bakum will be explained very carefully and there will always be soldiers around to explain everything to you if you get confused. In fact, the first thing you will do at Bakum will be to view a video explaining everything that you will be going through.

After viewing the movie you will be given a page with a with stickers containing your name and number. These stickers are very important. At each station you must make sure that the soldier dealing with you takes one of the stickers. If a soldier at any station does not take one of your stickers then the fact that you visited that station will not be inputted into the computer and at the end of the procedure you will be forced to repeat the station which forgot to take your sticker.

Your first station will take you into a room where you will be paid 100NIS (july 02) cash. This sum will be deducted from your first pay. In addition, you will receive a free telecard with 20 conversations from the Bezek telephone company.

After getting paid, you will go to different offices where, you will be photographed for your ID, your teeth will be photographed as well as X-rayed, and you will have your fingerprints taken. Then you will be led to a computer room where a soldier will verify that all your personal information is correct. If there were any changes or additions, it is here that you can correct the information. You will also be asked to give the name of a person who you authorize to take care of your affairs should anything happen to you.

Next you will be taken to have your immunity shots. You will be given three shots; one in each arm and the last where it will make it difficult for you to sit. It is important that you refrain from scratching the places where you got the shots for at least three weeks, no matter how irritating they are. If you have serious problems then ask to see the army doctor.

Prior to receiving your uniforms, you will be sent to verify that you have completed all the stations according to the computer. If anything is missing, then you will be resent to the station. Here you will receive your 'Teudat Choger' (army ID card). You can also give in your letter confirming that you are a Chayal Boded (if you are eligible) in exchange for your 'Teudat Chayal Boded' (Lonely Soldier card).

Note this card is different from your 'Teudat Choger'. If for some reason they cannot give you your Teudat Chayal Boded, then you will have to keep this letter and present it to you Mashaket Tash on the base where you are eventually sent (see above).

Finally you are sent to get your uniforms and miscellaneous equipment. You will receive the following:

  • A kit bag
  • Two towels (medium size)
  • Three pairs of underwear, three undershirts (white) and five pairs of socks (gray)
  • Three pair of army pants, shirts and one belt
  • One Beret
  • 2 pair of boots
  • A bag full of miscellaneous equipment
  • One sweater
  • One winter jacket

Make sure that everything fits, especially the boots. If anything is the wrong size or broken, immediately change. Once you are ready and checked, then you will have to sign for the equipment. If something is broken or doesn't fit, you will not be able to change it after signing for it.

At every stage of your process remember to be patient and to ask if you don't understand everything clearly. The people at Lishkat Hagius and Bakum are friendly and helpful providing that you are patient and your questions and requests are reasonable. In any event you will find that the whole process will be a unique experience in your life, so try to get as much out of it as you can. Most importantly, always keep your cool, and remember that when all else fails, there is really nothing more to do than laugh.

Letters to soldiers
IDF Background Info
Machal Booklet

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