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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: Out Come the Flags…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

On the houses, from the windows, on the cars, from the balconies. All over Israel, Israeli flags are flying. A few minutes ago, just 45 minutes before the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and those who lost their lives in terror attacks, I heard a drill going.

flag1

Slowly, the country is counting the minutes until the siren that begins a 24 hour period of intense mourning. We mourn this year for over 24,000 victims of this endless war waged against us. Soldiers and civilians, men and women, children, parents, wives and husbands, grandparents, infants.

Soon, the siren will sound. Already, the stories have begun to be told. Of Hadar Cohen, who was only 19 when terrorists attacked a border guard. Without hesitation, Hadar stepped forward and shot the terrorist and as she focused on taking her shot and saving her friend, another terrorist was focusing on her. Her parents have become part of the family of bereaved families.

And Ezra Schwartz, an American student who was visiting Israel and was shot in a terror attack. His mother has come to Israel to take part in the ceremonies and the national day of mourning.

And soldiers who died in the Yom Kippur war…tomorrow, David will stand beside the grave of one of these soldiers during the siren. I hurt for him, for what he will feel and for what the families feel.

The next 24 hours in Israel are among the hardest in Israel. We know that tomorrow night we will celebrate. We will smile and sing; we will watch the fireworks and celebrate our Independence Day.

But before we do, we will mourn with all our hearts. We will listen to the families tell us of their loss, of the amazing family members who live on in their hearts.

The neighbor was drilling, just 45 minutes before Memorial Day begins, so that he could hang a flag from his balcony.

flag3

It joins dozens of others on our blocks – on the houses, on the cars.

I won’t go to the ceremony this year. It is something I give to myself. I have a soldier in the army. I work hard to hold my tears back, to stop the endless worry for his safety.

All other years I go and I pay my tribute to those who have fallen. For these few years, I stay home. I stand and think of those we have lost during the siren, but I don’t go.

I will listen to the stories on live broadcasts and watch and learn.

Of those who fell in 1948, and those who fell in all the wars since. I will listen to the children – some of whom never knew their fathers.

And I will mourn and I will cry. But I will hold on to the knowledge that after tomorrow, another day will come.

But for now, in a few minutes, we will light the memorial candle in our house, we will listen to the siren, and we will remember them.

 

Israel flag half mast

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: London is Doomed

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Doomed…just doomed.

They went to the polls, as democracies will do…and…well, let’s just say that if what they chose reflects how they feel, every Jew in London should be buying a ticket out now.

Their choice was Sadiq Khan. And who is this man? Well, for those who believe terror is wrong, that hatred is not the right choice, here are some highlights of this man’s life:

  • He was a ‘legal consultant’ for  Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to conspiring to murder US citizens  as part of the September 11 terror attacks. When we use the term “legal consultant” – that means Khan had a choice, and chose wrong.
  • Sadiq Khan also chose to represent Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and a man well known for his hatred and extremism. Though, Farrakhan was banned from the United Kinddom for calling Judaism a‘gutter religion,” Khan still believed Farrakhan deserved his services.
  • Khan also shared a platform with terrorist Yasser al-Siri, who called for the corpses of American soldiers to be dragged through the streets.

Are you proud of this victory? Muslim extremists should be, peace loving human beings…not so much; Jews, not at all.

London has fallen…and not just the bridge…

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Gavriella…Who Did Not Survive

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel

Slowly, as the candle burns in my dining room, I think of those who perished, those who were murdered in a Holocaust that remains as agonizing and bitter today as it was when it happened. That’s the truth – time does not dull the memory – not of those who truly remember.

One by one, I think of those we can identify, those names we know.

May God bless the memory of Gavriella…for some reason, her murder haunts me the most. I wanted to name my first daughter after her, but my mother-in-law was afraid to have a baby named after her little sister, who was murdered by the Nazis at age 12. She was afraid that Gavriella’s fate, of dying young, could in some way impact on my baby and I honored her request and named my beautiful baby after my grandmother instead.

I wanted to name my second daughter after Gavriella, but my mother-in-law had passed away, and so Aliza was named after her. More, even though I didn’t really agree with holding the name back, I felt I could not do it after my mother-in-law had asked me not to.

And so the name and the memory haunted me and then, when my daughter-in-law and son were expecting, they asked us for names boys…and girls…and when it came to a girl’s name, Gavriella was the first name that came to mind. I gave them others. She is their daughter; the decision was theirs.

My granddaughter is named Michal Gavriella and when she was born and I heard the name that she was given, I felt that we had stolen the name back from the Nazis, that we had redeemed it.

Michali is growing in this land of ours, beautiful and happy and so amazing…she is the best response to what was done to Gavriella.

I pray that somewhere in the heavens, Gavriella knows that she has not been forgotten. That though she was denied this land, her namesake dances and sings and plays in this land, here where the Nazis cannot touch her – not the Nazis that killed Gavriella, and not the Nazis that even today, still try to hurt and kill Jews.

May God bless the memory of Gavriella and may our people never again be without the means to protect ourselves and may God, above all else, stand over us and protect us.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: From the River to the Sea; from the Ghetto to the Free

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Almost every year, I post or share this video.  It is, as the pilot would say later, the perfect example of the transition the Jewish people have made from the ghetto and the concentration camps, to the free people of Israel.

I can’t watch it without starting to cry. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched and listened…and each time, as I hear the pilot begin to speak, and I see Israeli fighter jets fly over Auschwitz as a tribute to the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, my eyes fill with tears, my heart hurts.

There are many videos of the Holocaust – this one is not so much about the Holocaust as a memorial to it. It’s been more than a decade since I was in Poland, since I entered a gas chamber and the lingering feeling of death. Every step was agony – to walk on blood and bones, to feel that every inch was covered in death and a thousand showers would never wash away the horror.

Tonight, as I sit here, a memorial candle burning nearby, I check the news. Five mortars were fired at Israel today…no, that’s wrong… “were fired” is passive and there was nothing passive about this action.

Earlier today, the Arabs fired five mortars at Israel today. Perhaps they know our minds are remembering but what they don’t know is that even when we cry… We watch, we see, we guard.

In the heavens above us, six million souls form a ring if protection as mighty and as precise as the greatest weapons we have developed.

Today our defense, our entire defense is the sum total of several amazing things – first and foremost is the protection of the God of Israel. Second are the prayers and faith of an entire nation. Third are the angels – souls of generations of Jews who never lived to see the miracle we live every day. Fourth are the amazing sons and daughters who have committed years of their lives to watching over our people, our land.

Watch our sons fly over Auschwitz – a message to the souls of six million. If we had been around, we would have moved heaven and earth to save you and so today, we do the only thing we can do – we remember you, we honor you. We bless your memory and keep it alive.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Givati

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Elie was drafted into Artillery. It was a soft landing for me…or at least I thought it was at the time. Elie’s commanding officer, Ohr, came and told me that Artillery soldiers always fight on the periphery. In war, he explained, they need to be many kilometers behind the front lines; in non-war (no, I can’t write peace) situations, they hold the lines outside while Golani and Givati and Paratroopers go into the villages…Arab villages. It was a lie. But I bought it and by the time I realized it wasn’t true, I had settled into a better understanding of the army.

Shmulik was drafted into Kfir but before he could finish the advanced training, he was moved into a combat support role, rather than combat, because he was experiencing terrible migraine headaches. He was given an amazing commander and role model and completed his service with that officer. While he could easily have been in dangerous situations (and I know he was in dangerous places), there was no advance warning that there was danger or that tensions were rising.

Now Davidi has been drafted – into Givati…Givati is one of the units of ground forces. Once, there was Golani, which focused on the Golan; Givati, which focused on the south; Paratroopers…I’m not sure where they focused…and now there is Kfir, which focuses on Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Only, that’s not really true – Golani can often be found in the south; Givati can be in the most dangerous places up north.

But for my family, Givati is where we started – our first real encounter with the army; and Givati is where we will end – God willing when Davidi turns 40-something and finishes with miluim. It’s a circle, in a way, perhaps several of them. Yakov went into Givati and was a sharpshooter; Chaim went into another division of Kfir at the same time as Shmulik and was also chosen to be one of the unit’s sharpshooters…and now Davidi has been chosen to go into Givati and like his two adopted brothers, given the task of sharpshooter.

Givati scares me to a depth I can’t admit to David. I didn’t know enough when Yakov was in to be scared and truthfully, back then, we didn’t seem to be going to war every two or four years. I started to cry when I heard David was going in to Givati; worse, I did something no mother should do…I cried in front of my son and told him if something happens to him, I’ll die. I will. I can’t go on
without him. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And so he was comforting me, saying words that we all know are meaningless – but what else could he say to a mother whose eyes are filled with tears. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I don’t want Givati. I think they are amazing, brave…I don’t want my son to be amazing and brave. They are strong. I don’t want him to be strong either. I do…I know I do…but Givati. They don’t hold the perimeter…okay, Artillery didn’t either; it was a lie. Elie came home one time and told me, “Ima, they have some really tall buildings in Kalkilya.”

“Why do you know that?” I asked him; knowing the answer already. Ohr lied to me.

But with Davidi, I knew from the beginning. There is no pretense. Givati goes in. Givati doesn’t hold the perimeter…ever. Davidi’s commanding officer came to visit us. He was actually Davidi’s commanding officer’s deputy commanding officer and his name is Shaked. Shaked didn’t lie…not exactly. He told me that if there will be a war this summer, David’s group will be sent to a checkpoint to relieve other Givati soldiers so that they can go into Gaza, if needed. He said Davidi’s unit wouldn’t go in. Not this summer. I don’t know if it is a lie yet but I know under certain circumstances, it could be.

And even if it is the truth this summer, what of next summer? And the one after that?

The tune for Givati’s “anthem” goes through my brain at the strangest times. “I have heard the sound of the wind,” Givati soldiers sing. “It is the spirit that is named Givati.” My son hears the sound of the wind. My son dreams Givati; he breathes Givati.

Years ago, Elie’s unit was involved in a terror attack. He wasn’t there but more than 20 boys were wounded, some seriously, when a young Arab got mad at his family for not allowing him to marry his cousin and so, to express his disappointment and anger, he rammed the family vehicle into Elie’s unit. Even knowing that Elie had been “busy” doing something else and so wasn’t with them at the time of the attack, I found little comfort. As I sat alone in the middle of the night with tears running down my face trying desperately to find some balance before facing others, I heard, for the first time in my life, my heart screaming.

I looked around wondering why others couldn’t hear it. It was so loud but it was a sound only I could hear. That was what I realized as people came over and asked me silly questions. I’m the only one who can hear my heart screaming. Then…and now, sometimes, my heart screams…David is in Givati doing well. He meets each challenge…next week, they walk more than 30 kilometers over a few hours; he is climbing, scaling, shooting…and my heart screams. I didn’t want Givati; I want to believe the lies and Shaked didn’t really lie.

By son now dreams Givati; my son now breathes Givati.

Givati “Anthem”

Facing the light of dawns and spring sunsets
I have heard the sound of the wind [also spirit]
It is the spirit that wanders around
It is the spirit that is named Givati

Those who dream Givati, those who breathed Givati
Those who walked with us down the paths
They repeat the name Givati
And again they recite the name Givati

With Givati we continue forward
And today they return and carry with them the comradeship I swore upon
They return to the map from desert and sea
And carry the spirit of Givati

Those who dream Givati, those who breathed Givati
Those who walked with us down the paths
They repeat the name Givati
And again they recite the name Givati
With Givati we continue forward

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Six Million Tears

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Near the end of World War II, my grandfather took his family to the movies in America. On distant shores, a war was being fought and the movie began with a newsreel of what was happening. They reported the murder of Jews, of concentration camps and my grandfather began to cry – “they’ve murdered my mother,” my mother remembers him saying.

They murdered my great-grandmother, Raizel. They murdered my two great aunts. They murdered hundreds of my father’s relatives – most with names we’ll never know. They murdered all four of my husband’s grandparents, and his uncle Binyamin Elimelech (for whom Elie is named). They murdered my husband’s uncle Shmuel (for whom Shmulik is named). They murdered Yehoshua, who sacrificed his life to save his younger brother. They murdered Chaim Eliezer (for whom my husband is named). They murdered little Gavriella (for whom my granddaughter is named).

Six million times, they killed them, gassed them, beat them, starved them, humiliated them, denied them life, denied them food, denied them dignity. Six million dead…more than 1.5 million children murdered. We’ve cried rivers of tears in their memory; we’ve lit enough candles to light the blackest night.

We’ve promised never to forgive, never to forget…even if the world denies what was done, we remember.

This is as it has been for 70 years…even more. This time, it seems so different for me. I have a new perspective. I have been where I never thought I would go and the experience remains with me.

Six months ago…I went to Germany – for professional reasons and perhaps, deep down, some personal ones as well.

It was a very difficult visit for me and in one very key area, I felt different. I have anger against many who persecuted the Jews…from the ancient Egyptians who enslaved us to Amalek who ambushed us, from the Romans to the Crusaders, from those who rioted in countless pogroms to those today who attack Jews simply because they feel they can.

What I feel for the Nazis is timeless, endless and without bounds. It is a hatred so deep, it borders on poison. And yet, I am well aware that the poison can run in two directions…and so I try very hard to ensure that I live my life in a positive way; that I raise my children in hope and not despair, in strength and not in weakness.

They must know what the Nazis did, and know that the answer to preventing the next Holocaust was never in the hands of the Germans, or the Europeans, or the Americans. We will trust no one with that task, other than ourselves.

And so my trip to Germany this last November, which coincided with my birthday…and Kristallnacht…the Night of Broken Glass when, in 1938, the Nazis rampaged through Germany burning Jewish books, synagogues and homes, beating Jews and announcing to the world that their leader had a plan,

I spoke with Germans – many of whom silently looked down to the Jewish star around my neck. Like me, they chose, mostly, not to speak of what stood between us – symbolized by that star. Some asked me if I was from Israel and without any hesitation, I assured them that I was.

Not one made a nasty comment; several expressed support for Israel; one responded by saying “shalom aleichem” and another “hava nagilah.” I smiled and was polite and held myself back from asking anything because I found there was nothing to ask.

I left Germany with a greater understanding than I’ve ever had before. This Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, which comes this Thursday, will be very special for me because for the first time, I admit that the Germans are as trapped as we are, even if they don’t fully know that.

They live in a world without forgiveness – no, I’m not even speaking of mine or anyone who is alive. Every Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world are blessed with an amazing gift from God, the opportunity to ask and be forgiven, to start fresh. We are told that we must approach those that we have wronged and do what we can to repair the damage, apologize, learn from our mistakes and finally to move on.

The Germans are stuck in a world without forgiveness because they murdered the very people from whom they must received redemption and pardon. We can’t give it to them – so whether we are willing to give it or not is irrelevant. They live, quite simply, in a world without Yom Kippur, forever.

I learned that I do not hate them; if anything, I pity them this reality. The Holocaust will always be that silent presence in the room when Jew and German meet. They will forever walk that tightrope, one that brings instant contempt if they dare to cross any lines or forget their role.

Each Yom Kippur, we Jews are “born again” into a new and better world – ours to honor or disgrace, ours to try harder this time and make up for what we failed last time.

As Yom HaShoah approaches, I will light a candle for the six million, I will remember Shaye and Raizel, and Yehoshua and Shmuel and Binyamin Elimelech and Chaim Eliezer and Gavriella and I will think too that the power to stop the next Holocaust is in the hands of their great great grandchildren, their great nieces and nephews, where it belongs.

No matter where you are, please light a candle Wednesday night or some time on Thursday and ask God to bless the memories of those who were murdered…in the sanctification of His name.

May God bless the six million; may God bless those who came from them, those who stand on our borders, watch over our waters, fly our skies and defend our people. Am Yisrael Chai.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: An Open Letter to King Adbullah II

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

In 1948, King Abdullah the First of Jordan, joined in a war to push the Jews into the sea after he and his fellow Arab leaders rejected the UN Partition plan that would have divided the remaining 1/3 of Palestine (2/3 of which had already been pilfered to form his government), into two states – an Arab one and a Jewish one. In the land grab that followed, Abdullah I took all of what is known as the West Bank to some, Judea and Samaria to others. He took the Old City of Jerusalem as well; the Jews gained land in the north, south, and kept Western Jerusalem, widely known as the New City.

For 19 years, Jews were denied any chance to visit the Old City, the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives. Over 40,000 headstones were vandalized, latrines built from the tombstones. In 1967, in a preemptive attempt to head off attacks by Syria and Egypt, Israel responded to the mobilization of Syrian and Egyptian troops, the closing of the Straights of Tiran, and the mounting and increasingly threatening rhetoric. As Israeli jets flew to cripple the Syrian and Egyptian air forces at the outbreak of what was to be called the Six Day War, Israel sent a very clear message to King Hussein, son of Abdullah I. Stay out of the war, Israel said. We will not attack you.

Hussein answered back that he would fight with his brothers, as he sent his forces on the attack. His motives were not nearly as noble as his words. In reality, he anticipated – incorrectly – victory for the Arabs and was afraid he would miss out on another land grab like the one that brought his father east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Hussein’s forces were pushed back beyond the Jordan River. Lost was Judea, lost was Samaria and lost was the Old City…which was, once again, reunited with the newer parts of the city, which had been under Israeli control from the beginning. And then, in a landmark move of monumental stupidity, Israel’s Moshe Dayan handed over the keys (figuratively speaking) to the Temple Mount and the game was on.

The Western Wall was clearly returned to the Jews who could once again pray before the last remnant of a Temple that was destroyed 2,000 years earlier. The Temple Mount was given to the Muslims, who have spent the last 45 years attempting to return to the 19 years of Jordanian intolerance.

Slowly over the last few years, Jews have become more and more aware of the absurdity of our being denied the right to simply whisper a prayer at our holiest site. Would worlds really fall if a Jew were to close his eyes and ask God for peace, safety and health for his family? Apparently so.

Over this Passover holiday in Israel, hundreds of infidels Jews and Christians have visited the Temple Mount. Today, two young men lowered themselves to the ground of the Holy Temple Mount and as they attempted to…yes…pray…they were attacked, beaten, arrested. In response, the Jordanian government, under the leadership of King Abdullah II issued a demand that Jews be banned from the Temple Mount.

In the past, the Jordanian government demanded cameras be installed and then when Israel welcomed the suggestion, knowing what violence there is up there is mostly not started by the few Jewish visitors, Jordan announced that it has canceled the plan and no cameras would be installed.

As I contemplated the demand by Jordan, I wondered if perhaps the Israeli government would be willing to appoint me as the temporary spokesperson to respond. I know exactly what I’d say to Abdullah:

Dear Abdullah,

In response to your government’s threat that there would be consequences if Jews were not banned from the Temple Mount, please note that 45 years ago, when Jordan last threatened Israel…they lost the Temple Mount and all of Judea and Samaria. If the consequences involve an attempt to bring this holy site under your control, I have to say, bring it on…but this time, Abdullah, this time we don’t give it back. This time we won’t let another idiot like Moshe Dayan hand over the keys.

Bring it on….you want no Jews on the Temple Mount…try it…and quickly find that we have learned much since you last held our holiest site and we will not return to those days. It was ours long before your precious Mohammed ever lived; it will be ours long after you are dust.

Arabs pray on the Temple Mount because WE allow it, and in our utter stupidity, rather than insisting that we TOO have a right to pray, we catered too long to an unfair and impossible situation. The site is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Either everyone is free to pray there, or no one is free.

No, you will not keep it from us entirely, not now. Not ever. Your threat shows that 68 years after the 1948 war, your nation still fails to understand the Jew. We will tolerate much to avoid what bloodshed we can but if you insist on attempting to take the Temple Mount from us…there will be war…because this time, we will insist that the Temple Mount be open to all religions – as we have kept it for the last 45 years, and as you refused to do for the 19 years it was in Jordan’s hands.

You kept us from the Temple Mount for 19 years…we’ll take full control if you dare to think the consequences to be paid will be ours. We will never forbid Muslims from praying there, but nothing says the WAKF has to be in charge; nothing says that Jews who go up to Har Habayit have to be beaten and abused and if your religion is insulted by seeing Jews pray, that is your problem, not ours.

If the problem is so insurmountable that the mere sight of Jews whispering in prayers sends Muslims into rioting, I suggest we initiate a rotation plan. There are three great religions. Each can be given the Temple Mount for 8 hours a day. Each can choose to share it with others. For the record, we will allow Christians up during our 8 hours and will seek permission in return such that Jews and Christians, tolerant and accepting of each other, will be allowed 16 hours per day. Muslims may have the Temple Mount, alone and unbothered for eight hours. What eight hours would you like?

Also, I recommend that each religion be given a specific number of days in which the Temple Mount will be closed to all other religions for a period of 24 hours. How many days would you like and which ones? I recommend 10 days, as we do in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Please note that you’ll need to remove your prayer rugs during the 16 hours that the Temple Mount is not in your control and on the full days as well. We can build three separate storage units (perhaps Keter would donate them, but if you prefer a Jordanian brand, that’s fine too). You can store your holy stuff in it and we’ll store our holy stuff as well. Not sure what the Christians have, so we’ll need to check with them as well.

Please note that you will also no longer be allowed freedom to build additional mosques up there unless we can build up there as well and I suppose we’ll have to let the Christians build up there too if they want. It might be a good idea to tell the teenagers that they can no longer play soccer up there as well, as access will now become fully equal and balanced for all. Domination of the Temple Mount has come to an end. Your people have occupied this historic and religious site for too long, abusing it by storing rocks and fireworks, endangering the infrastructure by illegal excavations.

You are correct; it is time to implement a true status quo based on equality; and there must be consequences for those who riot and refuse to accept the sanctity of the place.

Let us know when you want to begin implementing the 24 hour cycle – I suggest we do it quickly as Israelis would really love to have the Temple Mount to ourselves this coming Independence Day in a few weeks.

Sincerely,
Israel

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-an-open-letter-to-king-adbullah-ii/2016/05/01/

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