|Zvi Friedman's Daring Bicycle Ride|
by Arnie Friedman
"And this, yeladim, was my first home in Israel" - this is what I always said to my children years later, whenever passing "Machaneh Shmonim". A kilometer before passing the camp, I could already sense the kids nudging each other, whispering and giggling and saying to each other - "And this, yeladim was my first home...
"Machaneh Shmonim" was indeed my/our first home in Israel! To this day I cannot drive past without remembering those heady, difficult and sometimes frightening days of our basic training at this venerable and famous army camp, built & used by the British between two world wars."
So off we went (early on Friday morning) sporting, our new uniforms, to taste a bit of Israeli hospitality with family and friends on Moshavim, Kibbutzim, towns and cities, in a land which we knew about in theory, but were now tasting for the first time. Needless to say we got back to camp at the crack of dawn that Sunday morning. At five-minutes-to-ten we were already in three rows on the parade ground, everything not only spick, but also span. All, excepting Zvi Friedman, a sign-writer (from Jo'burg) who had overslept, arriving at Hadera at 9.45, hitched a lift to Pardes Hanna, and made a headlong dash towards the camp, about a kilometer away. Puffing and panting, he met a young boy from Pardes Hanna peddling his bike slowly on the dusty strip next to the road. In his fractured Hebrew Zvi managed to persuade the youngster to lend him his bike to get urgently to "Shmonim" promising faithfully to return it to its owner. With a quick "Toda" and an even quicker jump onto the saddle, our hero peddled furiously towards the camp.
"YOU ARE TWO MINUTES LATE!!" roared Samal Rafi - "and WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH A BIKE?"