Marva (Hebrew: מרווה) is a program in the Israel Defense Forces that allows young Jews to learn and experience the basics of IDF and Israeli life. Beginning in 1982, Marva operated out of a base in the Galilee, although it now is based at Sde Boker. It was originally associated with Gadna, youth battalions, which are now part of the Israeli Education and Youth Corps. Marva is open to anyone from ages 18 to 25 who is fluent in either English or Hebrew, although the vast majority of participants are between the ages of 18 and 20.
The program is eight weeks long and previously ran for ten weeks. Each week focuses on a different aspect of Israeli army life and participants travel around the country during numerous weeks seeing different IDF bases and experiencing the life of a soldier while learning about the army itself. The program costs 1650 USD and is non-refundable. Also medical coverage which covers all basic medical problems does not apply to out weekends which are every two weeks. Should a participant need time off during the course a letter must be written to the commanding officer in Hebrew. Also all orders are given in Hebrew, however due to it being understood that the course participants are not fluent in Hebrew, all orders are translated.
Participants must also participate in kitchen duty, guard duty in your tent area and punishments for not following orders range from pushups and waking up early to being forced to spend their free weekend on base. Marva has a greater focus on discipline and less of a focus on physical fitness compared to basic training for combat units in the army.
Week 1: Induction You get the basics of the discipline. Not much happens that's too exciting, but you do get a weapon after a short hike. You must never put it behind your back or you WILL be punished. You also learn the theory of shooting and practice the shooting positions.
Week 2: "Field Week" You spend the week outside living like a soldier on the line. You sleep in tents, eat army field rations (learn to love tuna) and learn the basics of field techniques (camouflage, movement, etc.). You will shoot the M16 in this week.
Week 4: Navigation Week You learn the basics of how to read a map and then use the knowledge you learned in the classroom in the field in a small squad.
Week 5: Sport Week You spend a week at the Wingate Institute, Israel's leading sports training facility. You do sports training with army sports instructors and the highlight of the week is a spinning class and running the army assault corse.
Week 6: Combat Week You spend a week at the home base of one of the infantry units, Nachal. You will learn how real combat soldiers live day to day. You will also shoot the exclusively Israeli rifle, the Tavor.
Week 8: Final Week The week begins with a hike up the snake path of Masada to watch the sun rise. There is a ceremony on the last day of the course at David Ben-Gurion's grave where family and friends are encouraged to come and watch you receive your ceremonial pin, the Marvaton.