By all accounts, Sherut Leumi (National Service) is generally a rewarding and enjoyable experience for the young volunteers.
But the application process the year before?
Well, that’s a completely different story. An absurd, ridiculous, and downright inane story. A story that often involves disappointment, frustration, and even tears.
A story that begs for a blog post of its own…
And thus, we here at Our Shiputzim proudly present:
The Official Sherut Leumi Lexicon
Shministit (שמיניסטית) – Literally, one belonging to the shminit – i.e. the eighth. Refers to a high school senior (fem.). The term is actually a vestigial throwback to the gymnasia system. The first form was the equivalent of today’s fifth grade, and the final – or eighth – form corresponded to today’s twelfth grade.
Bat sherut (בת שרות) – A Sherut Leumi volunteer.
Agudah (אגודה) – Literally, an association. Refers to one of the Sherut Leumi supervisory organizations. There are currently three primary agudot which cater exclusively to National-Religious young women. Each agudah has a separate catalogue of Sherut Leumi positions throughout the country. (Although three agudot may seem like overkill, competition between the three actually benefits the bnot sherut.)
K’sherit/Megasheret/Mekasharet (קשרית\מגשרת\מקשרת) - Literally, a liaison. (Yes, there are – at least – three different names for the same thing…) Refers to the agudah’s representative who comes to the ulpanot and helps the shministiyot figure out what they want to do during Sherut Leumi. Each agudah sends its own mekasheret, and thus the shministiyot have to meet with all three mekashrot. The mekashrot are often young and inexperienced (our neighbor’s 21-year-old daughter currently works as a mekasheret in a local ulpanah) and tend to come up with rather amusing suggestions for the girls. (I’ll leave it to A Mother in Israel to elaborate…)
Teken (תקן) – Literally, a standard. Refers to a Sherut Leumi position. Different institutions have different numbers of tkanim. In other words, the number of tkanim an institution has is the number of bnot sherut that institution can hire for the following year.
Popular positions – Certain Sherut Leumi positions are considered to be highly desirable. This reputation is largely undeserved and is based solely on hearsay. In practice, this means that shministiyot applying to any of these positions are likely to face rejection…
Sayaret (סיירת) – Literally, a reconnaissance tour. The shministiyot go on sayarot in order to check out potential positions and to be interviewed. Each institution is only allowed to invite a limited number of candidates to a particular sayeret. The precise number is determined by the number of tkanim.
Dirat sherut (דירת שרות) – The apartment where the bnot sherut live during their Sherut Leumi year.
Rakezet (רכזת) - The local coordinator or supervisor who takes care of the bnot sherut and the dirat sherut. The rakezet is employed by the agudah.
Website – Where the shministiyot must register for most of the sayarot (except for the ones that require preregistration, advance registration, and/or special invitation…). Registration begins at a specific time on a specific day. In recent years, it’s been at 6:00 PM on a given Tuesday. Which means that starting at 5:30 PM on that fateful day, girls across the country sit in front of their computers, hands hovering above their keyboards, as they wait anxiously for H-Hour to arrive - so they can quickly register for a sayaret at one of the popular positions before all the spots fill up.
“We upgraded our system, and it won’t crash.”- A statement made by an agudah official to a group of parents at a certain ulpanah earlier this year. Note that she said this without the slightest hint of irony – even though this is exactly what the agudot insisted last year… and the year before that… and the year before that… Also note that this year, out of the three agudot, only one’s system did in fact crash – and was down for over two hours - on that critical Tuesday evening: The very same agudah whose official made the aforementioned claim…
“What a crazy system!” – A phrase uttered repeatedly by, er, a certain Anglo mother of my acquaintance over the past few months…
What would you add to this lexicon?
And in conclusion, this blog’s editorial board and writing staff would like to take this opportunity to extend a hearty mazal tov to our favorite shministit, who recently, um, closed on (sorry, but the English just doesn’t have quite the same connotation as the Heblish…) a very exciting position for next year IY”H.
Best wishes to her and her classmates for continued success in all their future endeavors!