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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: Who Am I?

Monday, May 16th, 2016
The thing about comments on a blog is that the blog owner has a bunch of choices. The first choice is whether to allow unmoderated comments. As any Israeli can tell you, no Israeli blog and few Jewish blogs are safe from harassment and so, the first choice for most is pretty obvious – we moderate all comments.

The second choice is how to handle comments that are less than complimentary either to the core issues you present or to a stand you have taken. More than once, I have had people ask me in anger why I didn’t put their comments through – and the answer is always the same…because I don’t have to, this is my blog, my life and I present it as I live it. Take it, leave it, love it, hate it – it’s mine.

Sometimes, I put comments through and then answer them; sometimes I leave it to others to respond. Sometimes, I choose not to put them through at all…my right.

Sometimes, I post them, like this: Mahmood Says…

Sometimes, I put them all together… like this: Comments on Comments…

A few days ago, I posted Six Million Tears. today, Anonymous # 478 (or is it #479?) sent me this:

As a Jew living in Germany, by choice. I ask you this – who are you to condemn a whole people? Who are you to pronounce them without forgiveness, damned for ever? My family bled and suffered and died there, and yet we are still here. And we have chosen to never forget, but to find future and hope. Who are you to pronounce Judgement? You are not G-d!

I put the comment through but decided I needed more space to respond, as so I do that here:

You say you are a Jew living in Germany by choice, I’ll confess that this is a choice I do not understand but I wish you well there. I will pray for your safety because I have many doubts and concerns for the Jews who live in Europe.

You ask me who I am to condem a whole people? I will be honest and say that it is not I that may have condemned them but, if anything, that would be their actions, their choices. If they are to be condemned for all time, I doubt I have the power to be the one to do it.

Who am I to pronounce them without forgiveness, damned forever? Well, Judaism is different than other religions. While other religions grant individuals to pronounce God’s forgiveness, we do not. We believe there are two elements of forgiveness. The first is God – who are we to think we can grant God’s forgiveness? I certainly didn’t do that. God is the true and ultimate judge and I would be a fool if I believed that I could speak for God. The second is the person or people who are wronged. I cannot forgive the Nazis for the murders they committed. The only ones who can forgive that are dead. They murdered the ones who could grant them forgiveness. They also need forgiveness from those they wronged but did not kill.

I can tell you to his dying day, my grandfather never forgave the Germans…sadly, he never forgave himself for being unable to earn enough money in America to bring his mother and sisters to safety. To his dying day, my father-in-law never forgave the Germans…and sadly, he never forgave himself for not being near when the Germans came for his parents. My mother-in-law never forgave the Germans either, but worse, she lived her entire life under the shadows of what she survived.

You say your family bled and suffered and died there, and yet you are still there. If I were to say what is in my mind, I would say you are a fool. But my heart tells me I should be more diplomatic, more understanding. I don’t know what keeps you in Germany – is it money?  Is it allegienece to the Deutschland? Whatever it is, it’s a mystery to me.

My family and that of my husband bled, starved, were gassed and cremated. Those that survived gathered together and looked for the farthest places they could get to – Australia, Palestine, the United States. They wanted Palestine but the British blocked them; they got some visas for Australia but were not willing to be separated from their siblings and so lied and said they too were denied. And when the visas finally came through, they fled Europe for America.

You say you will never forget but choose to find future and hope and I commend you for that. I hope you will work hard to educate your friends and neighbors so that they too never forget. As for the future and hope – I live in a land filled with both; they are forever on our minds and in our hears.

And finally you ask who I am to pronounce judgment – and I tell you that I have not. I have simply said what I believe, what I felt when I was in Germany. It was a thought that crossed my mind. I found the Germans to be wonderful, interested, caring people. That was, for me, a wonderful thing. I went expecting to be challenged, to feel threatented. The first time I saw German eyes drop down and look at my Jewish star, I wondered if I had been wrong, over-proud, in wearing it. When he raised his eyes and said in a questioning tone, “Israel?” I felt my body clench but refused, in my mind, to back down and so, almost defiantly, I answered, “Yes!”

I did not expect him to smile, but he did. I did not expect the other Germans next to him to smile either, but they did. One turned to me and said, “hava nagila” and another said “shalom aleichem” – and I too smiled.

And so, going to Germany was a revelation. I have come far from where I was a few years ago when I wrote, They Put Her in a Gas Chamber. I can tell you now that I will never get to where you are.

And finally, you said that I am not God. I am very aware of that and never claimed to be. All I am is a person with a voice and an opinion. You don’t have to like it, and I’m fine with that. But I will tell you who I am…

I am a granddaughter to a man who suffered for decades; I am the wife of a man who watched his parents struggle to live with what was done to them and what they suffered. I was a daughter-in-law for just over 10 years and listened as, for the first time, my mother-in-law began speaking about the Holocaust, describing the life in the camps and the life they had before. I am a mother of five amazing Israelis, two who have served, one who is serving now in the army of Israel. I have sent two sons and a daughter to Poland to face the nightmare of walking into a gas chamber.

I am a Jew. I have stood in the gas chambers of Maidanek and Auschwitz; I have seen the ovens and the ashes. I have walked on the places where they were murdered; I have cried where some remain buried in mass graves.

I am an Israeli, forever aware that it is our job to be on watch; knowing that if the day should come, as it has too many times in the past, that the Jew in Europe will have to flee, we stand here in Israel ready to open our doors and more, ready to send our sons. We have flown into Yemen and Ethiopia, we have smuggled Jews out of Russia, Iran, Iraq…we will do the same in France and Germany and England, and even the United States if we have to.

That is who I am, that gives me the right to have my opinion. I wish the Germans well. But I have lived and will live with the Holocaust…and therefore, so will the Germans.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: My Nakba

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Guest post by the amazing RM Bellerose (Ryan):

On Thursday, I will celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day – each one a hard-won victory, a never-ending triumph over enemies that have never wanted peace, are not willing to talk or compromise. In fact, our very existence in “their” neighborhood is a constant affront to too many of them. Not all, but still most.

On Thursday, as I celebrate with my family, too many Palestinians will be mourning the “Nakba.” The Arabic word can be translated as “disaster” or “catastrophe.” Nice, huh? Meanwhile, back at the farm, tens of thousands of Palestinians (including the family of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestine Liberation Organization Palestinian Authority) use our doctors and hospitals, our buses, our electricity, the roads we built, the schools we support, the universities we subsidize.

I am angered when I hear the word “Nakba” – if Israel did not exist, thousands of people around the world would not be here today because when a real disaster happened – in Haiti, in Kenya, in Nepal, in the United States, in Canada, in Turkey and so many other places, Israelis flew to save lives and lessen the catastrophe. No, on Thursday when the Palestinians mourn their ‘Nakba,” it is important to remember that the nakba is as imaginary and non-existent as the Palestine they claim to want. Neither exists and the world is better off for that.

I saw this post on Facebook by an amazing man that I have never met, at least not in person. He is a Native American. I grew up supporting the Native American cause, hating what the greedy white man did to the indigenous population of North America…and then, more recently, I heard about Ryan and began reading his thoughts. He is pushing Jews to realize our own great truth – that we too are an indigenous people fighting for our homeland.

With permission, I offer you Ryan’s “My Nakba” – which is so very much what I would have written if I had been smart enough to think of it.

My Nakba,

I want to tell you about my nakba. My invented, ridiculous, ignorant, regressive and cowardly Nakba.

My Nakba is the Arabs who stab little old ladies and 13 year old boys.

My Nakba is the Rabbis for human rights who act like dhimmis in the name of peace.

My Nakba is the woman who writes for the Times of Israel but spouts anti-Israel propaganda and she insults the victims of terror.

My Nakba is the children who stab other children hoping one day they too can kill a Jew.

My Nakba is an old woman who plants a seed of hate deep into her children knowing she might never see it grow but she plants it anyway because she has a granddaughter and she thinks that one day her granddaughter’s granddaughter might kill a Jew.

My Nakba is rolling fields, filled with garbage by Arabs who cannot be bothered to put it in bins. its empty half built homes built with euros skimmed from aid meant for the poor.

I thought about writing more, but honestly my b.s. tolerance is full,

So I am gonna tell you the truth about Israel:

Israel is not perfect, but it is the one place Ive been that actually strives for perfection.

Israel is filled with people who agonize over their morals even when it means that they end up harming their own cause but they wont change because they truly believe God is working through them to make the world better.

Israel is a beautiful place where people don’t stand in line but help mothers hold their crying babies while they search for change for the bus.

Israel is a crazy place where nobody ever learned how to park properly and if they did, they just don’t care.

Israel is a place where they expect you to be as tough and resilient as they are and they suffer no fools gladly.

Israel is a place where a guy wearing trendy clothes and carrying the most modern technology is speaking a 4 thousand year old language, and praying exactly as his great great great grandfather did.

Israel is a place where a woman is encouraged to speak her mind.

Israel is a place where I don’t feel out of place even though I am not Jewish.

I know some of you will laugh at the first part of this post especially after you watch a certain bloggers “speech” you may have missed the irony of the introduction to that speech, you may not have understood the subtle undermining behind the florid language, but now maybe you might.

 

Paula Stern

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-givati/2016/05/04/

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