Blame it on the Mesopotamians. About 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, they came up with the meshuggeneh idea of New Year's resolutions.
And what was their most common pledge? To return borrowed farm equipment. "That would be a pickax or a sickle," says Danny, 12, who studied the Mesopotamians last year in his ancient civilization class.
But today we can't simply return some borrowed tool, toy or casserole dish. No, we North Americans feel compelled to annually reinvent ourselves as perfect physical, intellectual and emotional beings. We feel compelled to promise to shape up, to learn Aramaic or read the 100 top English-language novels, to be more patient.
The battalion is the brainchild of Roman Rathner, a former major in the Russian green berets -- the Spetznaz -- who immigrated to Israel a decade ago, who offered his expertise and knowledge to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and was refused because he was older than 30 -- too old. A year ago he went on the Russian radio and appealed to his former colleagues.
"Aren't you tired of watching our women and children getting killed on TV? Don't you want to do something to help?" he pleaded.