Rank & File

ARMY ULPAN: Jason Kipp, 25, and Bekka Pate, 24, were among some 190 immigrant soldiers who completed a special Hebrew instruction course run by the Israel Defense Forces at the Michve Alon base in northern Israel last Wednesday. “I have been around the educational block, and I found the ‏(19-year-old‏) commanders were the utmost professionals, very dedicated and very driven despite their seeming lack of experience,” said Kipp, a St. Paul native who enlisted for six months and will serve in the information office of the IDF’s foreign relations branch.

Pate broke her hand a month ago and had to watch the final ceremony from the sides, though she still graduated. She is to spend three years in the urban search and rescue unit.

Originally from Winchester, Virginia, Pate told Haaretz Monday she wanted to be a soldier after meeting Israel Scouts through her summer camp, but had to fight to get in. “I told a high-ranking officer that if he didn’t draft me he would wake up at three in the morning one day and regret not taking me,” she said.

POET’S CORNER: Cyclamens and  Swords may be a local literary publication, but its latest poetry contest indicates its global reach. Winner David Allen Sullivan, of Santa Cruz, CA, has yet to visit the Holy Land but told Haaretz yesterday by phone that he learned about it through an email he received. “I looked at it, liked the material published in it and thought I’d send them a piece,” said Sullivan, who teaches film and literature at Cabrillo Community College and recently published his second book, about the Iraq War.

Third-place winner Rochelle Mass moved to Israel from Winnipeg two months before then 1973 Yom Kippur War but never forgot her roots in Vancouver. She told Haaretz the inspiration for her poem, “At Kitsilano Beach,” was the very high-profile native North American art and symbols she paid attention to while growing up. The name of the beach, lying on the shores of Vancouver, British Columbia, is a Haida tribal name, said Mass, who settled in the Jezreel valley with her family after her dentist husband’s temporary gig filling in for someone called up for the war attracted them up north.

IRISH EYES: With the wafting of freshly-pulled Guinness mixed with the strains of live Irish Hebrew Mediterranean music, Malcolm Gafson, chairman of the Israel-Ireland Friendship League, and his wife Leah kicked off the 45th anniversary year of the league’s founding by hosting this week a festive celebratory gathering. The distinguished guest of honor, Irish Minister of Justice, Equality and Defense Alan Shatter, welcomed members of the expat Irish community in Israel at the gathering in the Gafsons’ Ra’anana home, Gafson told Haaretz yesterday. Shatter made a “special tribute and presentation in appreciation for the four and a half decades of the League’s ongoing Trojan endeavors to foster friendship between the peoples of Israel and Ireland,” he said.

Also present was the deputy mayor of Ra’anana, Ilan Cohen, with a municipality delegation and Irish Ambassador Breifne O’Reilly together with his wife Eaven, who said they were looking forward to hosting the official Embassy of Ireland St.Patricks National Day reception at their Herzliya residence.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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