And back to Israel I went.....
2001. It was a rough year for Israel. Lots of terrorist attacks.....http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/terrisrael-5.html
I wanted to do something more than just go to Israel. I wanted to help. I wanted to make a difference. So I looked into it and found out about a program called Sar-El. It's a program where people from all over the world can volunteer for the Israeli army. No, you won't be jumping out of airplanes or even get a gun. But you take basically take the place of a reserve soldier and do some grunt work for a couple of weeks so that the Israeli soldiers can do more important stuff. Hey, someone has to paint the barracks.....
I worked it out so I could leave for Israel a few weeks early, volunteer with Sar-El, and then start Ben Gurion University. It was great!! I had a good group of volunteers of all different ages, we had a good soldier in charge of us and we had a LOT of fun. We were up north at a base near Haifa. I am still in touch with a few of my fellow volunteers.
Ben Gurion university was interesting. I lucked out because some friends of family of friends who lived in Beer Sheva were going to America for the year and needed someone to house-sit. I found out about it and gained a house for myself. It was really nice especially for Shabbat. And a place where friends could come and hang out. And watch TV! The cable company was supposed to cancel it but never did. Good times.
December rolled around and time for Winter Break - which was like 2 months long - due to the Israeli exams (you have 2 tries). A bunch of students on the program went home. Some for the break, some were only there for the semester anyway. But I didn't have the money or the desire for a trip back to the States. Again, the year was so difficult with all the bombings, it got to the point where you woke up in the morning and turned on the radio to hear where was the latest terrorist attack - not IF there was one.... I felt like I had gotten so comfortable in BGU. Just livin life, salsa dancing on Tuesday nights in the bomb shelter/disco, homework, friends, etc. But I wanted to do more!! I felt so helpless when there was an attack. I considered doing Sar-El again and actually got some friends interested in it. But then I discovered the Magen David Adom Foreign Volunteers Program. Now THAT sounded fascinating!!! I take a short, intense course and become certified as a First Responder. Then I am sent to a MDA base somewhere in Israel where I volunteer on ambulances for a month or 2. Perfect!!
Turns out, that was another puzzle piece into my life. I was in Israel, I was searching for the love of my life. But had no idea what I actually wanted to do in life. And stumbled upon the world of Emergency Medicine!! Volunteering for MDA was one of the greatest things I have done in my life. I really felt like I was finally giving back to a country that had given me so much. I was making a difference. I was saving lives......
And I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go further and become an EMT, and maybe then a paramedic. I wanted to work for MDA. It was a new passion in my life. So I finished out the year at BGU. During which, I arranged a MDA course for other students on the BGU program.
And sadly, I also learned the pain of losing someone in a terrorist attack. My MDA instructor and friend, a person who I had just been on the phone with a few days prior, the guy who was going to come and teach the course that I set up in Beer Sheva....Yochai Porat. Again ,that is another story for another time. But suffice it to say, this man influenced me and turned my life in a new direction. I finally had a direction!
After BGU, I ended up going back to the States. I decided I wanted to go back and become trained as an EMT. Work in the States, gain some experience, save a little money, and then make Aliyah. For once and for all.
Once again.....I had to leave Israel. But this time, I was certain I would be back. With a career and a plan.