“Hannaton united us around a shared set of values,” says Zoe, a member of Garin NOAM. “The three months we spent there as part of our pre-army service without a doubt strengthened our group and played a huge role in helping us make the most out of our collective experiences in the IDF.”
Zoe Tal, 20 years old, was born in Kibbutz Ktura in southern Israel. She grew up in Maccabim and spent part of her childhood in New Zealand and in the US. As a teen, she was an active member of the Masorti Movement’s youth movement, NOAM. After high school, she became a member of Garin NOAM, a group of pre-army teens who join the army together as part of Nahal, an infantry brigade in the Israel Defense Forces. Each year, the current Garin NOAM spends a quarter of the year in leadership training programs at the Hannaton Educational Center to prepare for their army service.
“The focus of our program at Hannaton was to come together as a community of peers. We had a packed schedule with intensive learning, nature hikes, group dialogue, and experiential activities, all geared towards building a core set of values for our Garin,” Zoe says. She went on to serve two years in a co-ed Nahal combat unit, achieving the rank of sergeant. Now, as part of her extended army service, she and her Garin have reunited for a year of community service in various locations around Israel. Previously stationed at Kibbutz Yotvata, they are now serving in Ashdod.
The Garin left Hannaton with a written code of ethics that has accompanied them through their army service. “This code ensures that our army service will have meaning. It is a constant reminder of what our larger mission is and it is a testament to our group’s intentions as we embarked on our journey as soldiers in the IDF.”
Zoe explained that the Nahal brigade is extremely ideological, and that is why the process her Garin went through at Hananton to define its values was especially critical.
Throughout her time as a combat soldier, Zoe shared that her group regularly held egalitarian tfilot and organized enrichment courses on stimulating topics, sharing the Garin’s spirit and inspiring action among the rest of the brigade. “This is the NOAM spirit of knowing how to have fun while dealing with serious topics and circumstances, with respect for and acceptance of others.”
Zoe describes her time at Hannaton as extremely formative and essential to her Garin’s ability to serve meaningfully in the IDF.
This August, the Hannaton Educational Center welcomed a new Garin NOAM of 21 teens, each of whom are poised to become an integral part of the next generation of activist leaders in Israel through their army service and beyond.