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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘draft’

Hareidim – N.I.M.B.Y.

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Hareidim – obviously they’re worse than the Settlers. Who wants them? Worse, who wants them next living next door to you.

For a supposedly open-minded and tolerant society, some Israelis are very intolerant of Hareidim. So intolerant that they don’t want them as neighbors, while simultaneously complaining about Hareidi neighborhoods being enclaves of intolerance and isolation.

In Friday’s (Jerusalem Post) In Jerusalem, the paper went on its usual rant about Hareidim (legally, mind you) acquiring more property in Jerusalem for their growing needs.

In this latest story, the (secular) residents of Ramat Sharett, who share a border with (Hareidi) Bayit V’Gan woke up nearly too late to stop the “machinations” that put them on the “forward position on the frontlines of the ongoing haredi-secular battle in Jerusalem”.

But luckily these secular residents managed to block the legal hareidi acquisition and construction, and reach a “compromise” with the city, thus acquiring one of the two plots in question for themselves, keeping it out of Hareidi hands who had legally already won it.

This of course follows up with their previous articles on Hareidim making inroads into Kiryat HaYovel, and other “last bastions” of secularism in Jerusalem, to the dismay of the less primitive and more open and tolerant secular residents.

But don’t be concerned, all these people say that Hareidim deserve to have a place to live, just not in their back yard.

But what happens when it’s not in their back yard?

Not surprisingly, it turns out these tolerant secular open-minded progressives don’t want Hareidim to have a place to live there either.

In the Jerusalem Post’s weekend magazine, they interviewed Brian Lurie, the new president of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and Naomi Paiss, their VP of public relations.

There’s so much disgusting stuff to talk about in that article, but one particular paragraph caught my eye.

As you may have guessed from above, there are so few communities that want to let Hareidim in, for fear of them taking over.

As a result, the Hareidim have been working on building in their own towns and cities (one in the Negev, one in Wadi Ara), where they can let their hair down, and not worry about bothering secular Jews with the threat of encroachment.

But, the NIF and other progressive group don’t like the idea that Hareidim should build all-Hareidi towns for themselves. And so they try to block it.

The Jerusalem Post quotes Naomi Paiss, NIF’s VP for public relations,

“…the NIF was involved in a campaign to change what was set up to an all-haredi 50,000-person city placed in the Harish wadi area [JS: think Baqa Al-Gharbiya and Umm el Qutuf] between a regular middle-class town of ordinary Jewish people, a kibbutz down the road and an Arab village up the hill.”

Paiss says the new city would have ruined an area where pluralism is working by artificially throwing in a new ghetto.

She says she has no problem with Hareidim moving into the new development, but the NIF is proud it has suceeded in making the new development open to all.

So let’s analyze her statement, down the road is a left-wing kibbutz ghetto. Up the hill is an exclusively Arab village ghetto (Baka Al-Gharbiya – Arab population 32,000+, Jewish population: 0). And somewhere nearby is a ghetto of middle-class ordinary (presumably secular) Israelis (who would of course welcome in Hareidim with open arms to their town).

So despite all those other ghettos nearby, a new Hareidi ghetto would have ruined the pluralism of the the area. Really.

I don’t know about you, but the hypocrisy is just reeking.

And perhaps there’s something else that Paiss isn’t actually telling us either.

This area, Wadi Ara, is actually an area overwhelmingly populated by Arabs, and not Jews, though it appears to me that she wants you to think otherwise by mentioning a kibbutz and Jewish town alongside and Arab village.

If I were a suspicious fellow, I’d wonder if perhaps the NIF fears that Hareidim moving in, with their high birth rates, would Judaize the Wadi Ara area. While a “pluralistic” town, “open to all” would prevent that from happening.

But I’m not a suspicious fellow, and I’m sure that wasn’t a consideration, even if she implied that there was only a small Arab village nearby, and not a few, including one with over 32,000 Arab residents.

The Winds of Change

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

There was an amazing editorial by Rabbi Moshe Grylak in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine, in which hereflected on the newly elected Israeli Knesset. He applauded the fact that so many members of the new Knesset will be observant Jews. In fact, he pointed out that it has almost become fashionable for a political party to have at least one religious Jew on their list. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid has two rabbis who will be sitting members in the Knesset. He contrasted that to an earlier time when wearing a Kipa in the Knesset was seen as anything but an asset. Here is how he put it:

I, for one, feel this is a refreshing change. It tells us that the kippah on the head of an MK does not, in and of itself, frighten the secular public in Eretz Yisrael the way it once did. Two weeks ago Yair Lapid, head of the celebrated new Yesh Atid party, declared publicly and unabashedly that he believes in G‑d and in Divine involvement in earthly affairs, a departure from the faith of his father, Tommy Lapid, who was an avowed atheist.

A journalist from the left-leaning Haaretz once told me that in her opinion, Tommy Lapid didn’t hate the hareidim so much as he looked down on them pityingly, considering them victims of some mass delusion. Yet his beloved son Yair is standing up and bareheadedly declaring his adherence to that very “delusion.” How that belief affects his personal life, if at all, is not the question now.

The point is that he felt he could make such a statement without fear of losing the election, and that attests to a change in the public’s attitude. In the past, one such remark by a candidate could have lost him any chance of sitting in the Knesset. Indeed! An astounding 40 or more members of the Knesset will be Kipa wearing Jews. That is at least 1/3 of the Knesset! That is a Kiddush HaShem!

But as a card carrying Haredi, Rabbi Grylak considers this to be a mixed blessing. While applauding this new statistic he laments the fact that so many of these new members seem to be opposed to the views of ‘Daas Torah’ on the subject of drafting Haredim into the army. The Haredi position is well known by now. They are opposed to drafting Haredim.

How opposed? It seems like it might be a Machlokes HaPoskim. Here is what Yahadut Hatorah’s Menachem Eliezer Moses said. From YWN: “If we are so compelled, we will all accompany the bnei yeshivos to prison.”

But Brisk Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Meshulam Dovid Halevy Soloveitchik has said that if the draft is enacted into law, then “we (Yeshiva and Kollel students) will be compelled to leave the country.”

Jail or exile. What a choice.

None of this surprises me. That is all I’ve been hearing since the Tal law was allowed to lapse. The Tal Law offered Haredim a path into the workforce by satisfying their military obligations with minimal service after leaving Kollel. And even that law was considered anti Torah by some Haredi rabbinic leaders.

This is one area where differences between Haredi factions disappear. When it comes to drafting their youth, they all unite in common cause. The Eida HaHaredis, the Lithuanian Yeshiva world, the world of Hasidim… even HaGoan Rav Ovadia Yosef… all keep repeating the same “Hell no… We won’t go!” type mantra:

What is disturbing to me is not so much their argument that learning Torah is more important than army service. It is the way they articulate it. Here for example is what Rav Meshulam Dovid Halevy Soloveitchik said in a Shmooze (informal lecture or conversation) with his students. From YWN:

“The kavona of the haters of Israel by trying to draft bnei yeshivos is to destroy the major foundation of Torah, to destroy the yeshiva world, and to uproot everything R”L

The rosh yeshiva refers to the share the burden effort as an “existential threat against the Torah world and Yiddishkheit R”L”.

…they seek to uproot everything” he adds, “to uproot Klall Yisrael’s neshama from its roots, the yeshivos hakodesh.”

“When we refer annually in the Pesach haggadah (In every generation they stand against us to destroy us) refers to the gezeiros of the haters of Torah seeking to uproot the Torah HaKadosha R”L.” I’m sorry. With all due respect to Rav Soloveitchik does he really believe that the goal of… not only the secular government but of many religious members of the Knesset is to destroy Torah Judaism? If so – he is wrong and clueless about their goal and their motives.

A Solution to the Draft Controversy

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

My proposal regarding the contentious issue of Israel’s universal draft represents a unique approach that cannot only solve the problem but will also provide leverage to strengthen the IDF and Israeli society.

To begin, I object to the premise that army service is a unifying factor, i.e. the melting pot, of Israeli society. Today, a large part of Israeli society – not necessarily the Haredi – finds a way to evade mandatory service. Also, only a small percentage of the entire society serves in the reserves.

Mandatory military service is one of the factors dividing and fragmenting Israeli society. The discussion being conducted now is one of the proofs of that. Additionally, the obligation to draft everyone is actually a burden on the army and economy, as it cultivates hidden unemployment and lack of professionalism.

Proposal’s Main Points

● Create a process that will transform the army into a professional, volunteer force. ● On the other side of the coin, we must exchange our exclusive reliance on the army as an apparently unifying factor in Israeli society with a true investment in the strengthening of our shared national and cultural identity. This entails authentic dialogue between all the main sectors in Israeli society.

Army Service Proposal

● The Mandatory Draft Law will remain on the books, but the IDF will draft only those it is interested in drafting, according to the tracks to be specified below. ● Most of the recruits will serve in a shortened training track (not more than two months) that will prepare them for various roles in times of emergency – and will then be discharged.

● Recruits who volunteer for military units will be drafted for at least three years. They will receive minimum wage during their training and standing army wages during their military service.

● Recruits who volunteer for special units will be drafted for a longer term (5-6 years), in accordance with the training invested in them. They will also receive minimum wage during training and standing army wages during their military service.

● The National Service and Civil Service frameworks will continue to play their roles in society, in accordance with the civil needs.

● Reserve units will receive high pay and high national classification as detailed in the following point.

● A classification on a point system will be set in place. Points will be allotted relative to reserve time served. These points will afford the reservists preference for anything that society honors (academia, housing, employment, etc.) in order to encourage those who give of themselves for the good of the whole.

Proposal Application

● This proposal does not require a change in legislation but rather a change in perspective. The army must be allowed to draft those individuals who it can professionally train and from whom it will truly benefit. Those not needed by the army could give to society in National Service or Civil Service, as well as in their preparedness for active duty during emergencies. Those not wishing to do their part in any way will remain at “the end of the line” in any domain in which society encourages those who give to it.
● This proposal will make the army more effective while freeing those currently forced to perform mandatory conscription (be it in the army or in yeshiva) to enter the work market. Instead of funding unemployed soldiers and yeshiva students who do not want to enlist, a wave of young workers will enter the workforce and create a more just distribution of the economic burden on the shoulders of Israel’s citizens.

MILITARY SERVICE is a privilege – not a burden. Mandatory conscription is not really needed. It weakens our security and economy, creates unnecessary conflicts and fragments society.

I call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet to adopt this new, fresh approach on the draft issue. I call on them to channel their efforts to truly unite Israeli society – by investing in our national identity and its meaning.

Draft Diaspora Jews into the IDF!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Is a Jewish kid in Brooklyn, or Chicago, or Beverly Hills less Jewish than my kids are? Is the Land of Israel less of a homeland for American Jews than it is for Israelis? Why should we, the Israelis, be the ones to fight the enemies of Israel, and not Diaspora Jews as well?

If you answer, “Because I’m an America citizen,” that doesn’t cut the cake. I’m an America citizen too, but I served in the IDF. The fact that a Jew is a United States citizen, or a German citizen, or a citizen of Zululand, is merely a technicality. So what if you have a U.S. passport? If you move to England, you can become a citizen of England, and from there, you can move to Switzerland and get a Swiss passport too. It’s all just an administrative technicality. A Jew is a Jew. That’s what the Nazis taught us. Whether a Jew was a German, or a Pole, or a Rumanian, or a Hungarian, they were all herded onto trains for the ovens.

Let me try to explain something, please. In this week’s Torah portion, as we receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, we are “like one man with one heart.” At Sinai, we didn’t only receive the Torah, we received a national Israelite soul that made us, and our descendants forever after us, a part of the Israelite Nation. The Jewish People aren’t like other people in the world. Yes, we all have eyes and ears and legs, but whereas other people possess individual souls, we possess the national, collective soul of Clal Yisrael, the Community of Israel, Knesset Yisrael.

Our Sages teach that this national soul is something unique to the Jewish People. Other nations are groupings of individuals who come together for some common interest and purpose, whether it be for self-defense, or economic strength, and the like. They are like individuals who buy stock in a company, in order to benefit from its revenues, but they aren’t the company itself. The Nation of Israel is different. Wherever we may be, we have the unique national soul of the Jewish People who stood at Mount Sinai, which makes a Jew, first and foremost, a Jew wherever he may wander. He may hold an American passport, but his soul is 100% strictly kosher – Hebrew National, to make a pun.

This national soul makes us Israelis wherever we may wander. We are members of the Nation of Israel – the Children of Israel. The word Jew doesn’t exist in the Torah. It’s a deviation of the exile, as in Mordechai the Jew, meaning someone who was exiled from the kingdom of Judah. In our essence, we are the Children of Israel, whether we live in Boston or LA.

True, this national soul doesn’t come to expression when we are alienated from our Land and exiled amongst the nations. Without our own Land, we exist as individuals, operating on a low-level individual soul, while our national soul is in the garage getting fixed. But with our return to our national Land, our giant national soul returns too. In effect, we become giant Jews, part of a powerful Jewish Nation, the reborn Nation of Israel, with a Jewish government, and Jewish economy, and Jewish army. Instead of tiny, lilliputian individual souls, we become national giants – Israelis, Divinely empowered with new found courage and strength.

The Jews of the Diaspora have this giant national soul too, but it’s defused, deactivated, in hibernation, like a vestigial organ, as long as they’re outside of the Land of Israel. But they are the Children of Israel nevertheless. Israel is their one and only true Land, and they have the duty to defend it just like the Israelis who live there.

Lapid Concedes: Haredim Have Won (Video)

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

If one listens to or reads the transcript of Yair Lapid’s address to Haredi law students at Kiryat Ono College, one can see why he won so big in the last election.

For those who don’t know, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party won the second largest number of seats in the Israeli Kenesset (19) after Netanyahu’s coalition party of Likud/Yisrael Beitenu (31).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNwAv6zpmh4]


After reading it, I think I may have actually voted for him too, if I lived in Israel. Lapid won because he is apparently a very wise man who recognizes the truth and is unafraid to speak it.

And yet Lapid scares Haredim. So much so that they have united with Shas to try and form a political block with an equal number of seats as an alternative to Lapid in a coalition alliance with Netanyahu . They fear they may lose out and not become a part of the governing coalition – and therefore not have the power they have enjoyed in recent years. And they may be right.

Why does he scare the Haredim? There are probably many reasons for that. For one thing his father “Tommy” Lapid formed an anti-Haredi party whose purpose was to battle Haredi influence in government. Haredim might think, “Like father like son”. After all where does a person mostly learn their attitudes about others if not from the home?

Another thing they see is his uncompromising demand that Haredim be subject to the draft. This they fear with a vengeance. To Haredi rabbinic leadership, supporting the draft of Haredim into the army is tantamount to supporting the destruction of Yiddishkeit. This has been made clear time and again by their public statements on the matter or in one public protest after another. That alone is perhaps enough in their minds to consider him a Rasha.

In fact it wouldn’t even surprise me if they dismissed his speech at Kiryat Ono entirely even if they did hear it, because of his support of drafting of Haredim. Not that any of them would even bother listening to – or reading the transcript of his speech. Their leaders have spoken and he has been dismissed as a Torah hater – or something akin to it. End of discussion!

Which is kind of the problem with Haredi leadership in Israel. If anyone has an all or nothing approach to things it is them. If a secular Jew says one thing in opposition to their views about Judaism, he is evil.

Which is too bad. Because what Lapid says makes eminent sense. In fact if I didn’t know he was a secular Jew I would say that he was very much a part of the Dati Leumi camp. (Although he does refer to himself as secular several times during the course of his speech.) Much of what he says could have been said by me… and probably has been at one time or another.

What is remarkable about this speech is not only that he pushes for the same things I do. But that he recognizes that Haredim have won! He recognizes the error of Israel’s founding fathers in rejecting Talmudic Judaism in favor of biblical Judaism. He recognizes that the complaint by Haredim that seculars too often believe in “Kochi V’Otzem Yodi” is a valid one. That is the view that all of Israel’s successes in war are due solely to their own military prowess. Lapid says that this belief is a mistake and he recognizes that there is a God in the world. And he says that even secular Israel is now more religious than ever. The majority of Israelis even believe in Torah MiSinai!

He fully admits that the founding fathers not recognizing the spiritual component of Israel was a mistake.

Haredim won the battle between the forces of secularism and socialism that guided its founding fathers. They should therefore no longer consider themselves just a small party – one of many – seeking whatever it can for its own constituents regardless of what’s good for the country as a whole. Instead Haredism is increasingly defining the mainstream by virtue of its exploding demographic and perhaps more importantly by the very nature of Judaism itself: its spiritualism.

Without the spiritual component Israel has little if any real attraction for a secular Jews. Who wants to live in a place where all of your neighbors that outnumber you in geometric proportion want to annihilate you? Why would any human being want to live like that? Without the spiritual component that Haredim stand for, no normal person would want to live in such a hostile and dangerous part of the world.

He acknowledges that Israel cannot exist without Haredism but says that Haredism cannot exist without Israel.

The bottom line for Lapid is that he seems to have done some soul searching and discovered some of the eternal truths of Judaism, its history, and the requirements for Israel’s survival. In a very real sense, this secular Jew is a very spiritual person. And a very honest person. Which makes me wonder how he ever became a politician!

But then again, if ever there was a time for an honest politician in Israel, that time is now. I truly believe that this man is a patriot who is both honest and who has a clear vision for the future. A vision that is inclusive of all!

I don’t know what a new governing coalition will look like, whether it will include Lapid or not. But I hope it does. And it would be nice if Haredim gave him a chance to prove himself to them. He is their friend whether they realize it or not.The full video presentation of Lapid’s speech (Hebrew with English subtitles) follows.

Israeli Election Results Put Focus on Domestic Front

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Israeli elections last week saw a meteoric rise of a centrist party, and disproved near-universal forecasts of a rise of the religious right.

What do last week’s elections say about Israel’s future defense policies?

Israelis returned Netanyahu to the prime minister’s seat, meaning that the electorate would like him to continue to steer the country through this chaotic and dangerous era. The elections results also showed that voters backed Netanyahu’s hard work on tackling the Iranian threat, but remained deeply concerned over domestic issues, which Netanyahu’s last coalition of ultra-Orthodox and nationalist parties failed to address.

Lapid, located on the center-right of the political map, is no dove. He is pragmatic; he does not hold ideological or religious objections to an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, but has recognized, rather, that Israel has no peace partner.

At the same time, Lapid and his party have expressed displeasure over the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been able to score victories over Israel in the diplomatic arena. Lapid has therefore called for reopening talks with Abbas, if only to prove Israel’s willingness to pursue a peace plan.

Lapid has also advocated a unilateral dismantling of far-flung outposts in Judea and Samaria, while consolidating the major settlement blocs — with or without a peace agreement.

On the most critical question of all — whether Israel should launch a military strike on Iran — Lapid has limited himself to calling on Netanyahu to do a better job of coordinating Israel’s position with that of the U.S.

He expressed concern over the dysfunctional state of relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, and the ramifications of poor relations on future efforts to stop Iran.

In all likelihood, Lapid and his new party will join Prime Minister Netanyahu in forming the next coalition. If he joins the government, Lapid is expected to support Netanyahu’s main focus — stopping the Iranian nuclear program.

How did Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid [There Is a Future] party — whose members have never sat in parliament — overnight become the second largest political force in Israel?

The answer resides in the quiet and growing alarm mainstream Israelis are feeling over the way the country’s resources are diverted to serve narrow minority interests at the majority’s expense.

Lapid merely pointed out problems that were known to all, but also promised to repair the glaring flaws, while enjoying a clean-cut image, free of the political baggage that had tarred the old guard in the eyes of much of the electorate.

Lapid’s campaign highlighted the fact that middle class Israeli families — the engine of the country’s economy — are struggling to make ends meet, yet significant funds are being diverted to support a parallel ultra-Orthodox society, which has its own education system. Many of those who study at ultra-Orthodox seminaries do not end up joining the workforce, and remain dependent on state subsidies.

While a majority of secular and Orthodox national-religious Israelis risk their lives to serve in the military and protect their families, most ultra-Orthodox do not (although a growing number are.)

Lapid’s proposed solutions: A universal draft to the army or civilian national service for all Israelis, and limiting the number of state-sponsored seminary students to 400 (the current number of students is 60,000).

Lapid has also called for a change to Israel’s proportional representation system, to decrease the number of political parties, thereby limiting the ability of small parties to extort special privileges from ruling coalitions.

Israelis are also outraged by economic oligopolies, which are inflating prices of basic commodities, as well as the failure of past governments to protect citizens from exploitative corporations. The only exception to this is the outgoing communications minister, Moshe Kahlon, who reformed regulations and introduced new competition into the mobile phone industry, resulting in plummeting prices, and as a result became a national hero.

A significant numbers of hardworking Israeli families are in perpetual debt, while others — due to the inflated housing prices as a result of the state owning 93% of all lands, as well as bureaucratic red tape slowing down the construction process — are unable even to dream of owning their own home.

The old guard of Israeli politics is perceived as being out of touch, and tinged by cronyism, as well as by apathy to the common person.

From Sad-ish to Glad-ish

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I’ve been chugging along for the last few days trying to think what to write, not feeling there was much to say. The wonderful thing about the flat of the roller coaster is that time seems to stretch without a sense of urgency. It’s so boring on the flat of the roller coaster and I am grateful for boring. I am grateful that I can go to sleep at night and not worry that my phone may not be charged enough. Everything is okay; missiles aren’t flying and my sons are home safe. Boring is one of God’s greatest gifts!

Elie is studying engineering; Shmulik is looking into studying computers and Davidi needs a haircut! Aliza is cruising towards her 13th birthday, just as Davidi is in the final days before he turns 17.

My oldest daughter is studying and watching her baby gain words and actions every day. It is amazing how quickly babies learn – at least this one. I know they all must, but I just don’t remember seeing a baby understand so much, so fast, so early.

My children were the most amazing…how is it possible that a grandchild can be as amazing (perhaps even a bit more amazing in some ways?). He calls me “Savta” – grandma in Hebrew, and my heart melts. He gives me a kiss and I am unsure I can ever put him down. You can talk to him and he talks back. He was over today and when Aliza went upstairs for a minute, he walked over to the steps, looked up and called, “Iza! Down!” He walked around the room identifying things, calling out words. This is the beauty of the calm oasis of today.

Sometimes I feel that something is coming – and it’s scary. I don’t know what it is, if it is. I saw a report that 400 people were killed in Syria today – bodies are being found and there are reports of chemical weapons being used. Iran remains an open sore; a danger on the edge. The Egyptians aren’t particularly stable; God knows what is happening in Lebanon and Jordan issued a warning to Jews last week not to visit dressed in apparel that easily identifies them as Jews…for their own safety of course. Personally, I’d cut to the chase on that one and tell Jews not to visit, but never mind.

Driving home today with Elie on a beautiful sunny day, I felt this pressure, this concern as we drove up the mountain to Maale Adumim. It’s probably a combination of a lot of things. For one thing, I’m busy at work – two courses running, a new writer starting, and to top it off, we’re coordinating an amazing national conference for February 7 (www.megacomm.org).

The Executive Director of an organization wrote to me explaining their interest in attending the conference. The conversation turned a bit personal and wanting to show that I have an interest in the work they do, I mentioned that I was “A Soldier’s Mother.” I provided a link to the blog – hoping she would come here and read a bit and see that we share common interests.

And in the response – sadness turned to a smile. “Oh my goodness,” she wrote, “YOU are asoldiersmother?…I read your blog and have shared your pieces often.”

I guess it’s my ego, but I find that so cool. I like when people say, “oh, I’ve heard of you” or “I read your blog.” But, I just loved that “YOU” are a soldier’s mother? I’m not sure, but I think I wrote back, “I am, I am.” If I didn’t write it back, I certainly thought it.

I am, you see – for 31 days this year, an active soldier’s mother; and for 365 days a year for the next 25 years or so, the mother soldiers that can be called – any time, without warning. I’ve experienced the “Tzav Shmona” – an immediate mobilization and I can tell you that I pray to God I never experience it again. I can still feel the air leaving my body when I heard Lauren tell me that they were on the way back to Maale Adumim for Elie to get his army gear, that he’d been called in.

So They Won’t Have to Serve

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Last night, at the very end of my day – already close to midnight, I headed home, stopping by my daughter’s house to pick up the car seat for the baby. There in the quiet of the middle of the night, knowing I’d have to be up in six hours, I had a short talk with my son-in-law. He is a very special person in so many ways, more than I could ever explain without my eyes filling with tears. I’m so blessed to have him – well yes, my daughter has him, but he has her and together, they have each other. For a mother to see that…is beyond words. After two years, he finishes the army this week, returns his uniform and will be free to do what he wants, when he wants. It hasn’t sunk in yet, he told me.

I told him that it was good he had served and how it is good for a son to have a father who has gone through the army. Elie didn’t have that – what he brought to us, the stories, the process, the problems – were all new. My husband listened but couldn’t offer his own opinions, advice, army stories of his own. Each thing that happened to Elie was a discovery for us, an unknown, a path never traveled by any of us. It was easier for Shmulik and Chaim because they had Elie to guide them, advise them. Where a parent might call a commanding officer, Elie has taken that role if it was needed; Elie answers the questions, explains.

So when my grandson gets to that age, I said, if he serves in the army, Haim will be able to guide him, to share from the side of knowing. Haim is happy he served, enriched in many ways by the experience. There is a lot that is good about the army, he told me, but he looked down and around when I mentioned his son serving. It is years and years away – his son, my amazingly special grandson, is just a baby.

When you get to be my age, you understand how fast time goes – when your first is just a young toddler, it seems the future is ages away. And then Haim told me something I had forgotten, something friends of mine had told me when their son went into the army.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” my friend said. “We served so that he wouldn’t have to.”

My son-in-law wants to believe in a future in which there will be peace and no reason for his toddler to ever grow into a soldier. He served so that his son wouldn’t have to. I’d forgotten that. My son-in-law needs to believe that there will be no need for soldiers in another 18 or so years. Deep down, I want to believe that too, but there is this massive wall inside me that doesn’t believe.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

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