Weeks 28 and 29
Motherhood is an amazing thing. We birth our children, nurture them, feed and clothe them. We care for them from infancy to adulthood. We care for them when they are ill and we nurture them back to health. We share in their joys and accomplishments and agonize over their defeats. We worry about their well being, and often, we lose sleep because we worry so, though we don’t let them know that. As mothers, we have to be ‘on’ most of the time, ready to kiss a boo boo, give a kiss goodnight, help with a problem or offer advice, or simply, just to listen, cry with or laugh with our children.
I sit in my living room on this hot Thursday afternoon reflecting on this phenomenon called motherhood. The past two weeks have been very emotional for me as a mother and I’ve felt the tears and frustrations, laughter and joy of my children. Our first Purim in Israel though wet, rainy and cold, was wonderful. We had great food and drink, great company (Chavi Skolnick) and an overall good time. It was a bit lonely though, in that we didn’t have our usual list of mishloach manot recipients and we didn’t share Purim with Michal and Chezky and other family members. We genuinely missed that, but truth be told, so enjoyed the Purim spirit here. It was a completely different experience than that to which we have become accustomed. I worried somewhat because Yechezkel was slightly run down, and of course, I worried about the alcohol consumption of both boys, but fortunately, I didn’t really have to worry. They demonstrated maturity and responsibility.
I cried a lot this week (I’ve been very emotional lately) as well because of some problems and concerns my children faced and I felt my heart ache for each one of them. I am sure I am not alone in feeling that I wish the problems and burdens they feel sometimes would be alleviated by a simple hug, kiss, or word of encouragement. But maturity demands that they learn to handle their problems and I can only hope and pray that the lessons they’ve been taught at home, school and in life carry them successfully through those difficult times.
I wrote in one of my earliest emails about Yechezkel becoming a soldier in March and about how I may feel once that is upon me. I, an Israeli soldier’s mother. That time has come and in a week and a half, he and I will be those people. It has not and will not be an easy transition for either one of us. The passionate young man who has always dreamed of serving and defending his country will not have that dream realized. He will be a soldier, yes, but unfortunately, not the one he dreamed of being. He has fought hard to be able to become a combat soldier and I couldn’t be more proud of him for his effort, his diligence, his manner and maturity. But because of his profile, that is not to be. It has been a long protracted story, and the bottom line is, he did not prevail. He is dejected, and I in turn, hurt for him. He has accepted it, but is angry and disappointed in that he has worked so hard to achieve his goal and the army brass simply won‘t give him a chance to prove himself. I know many of you are wondering what my problem is and why I seem so sad for him. Have I lost my mind? Why wouldn’t I be happy that my son will not face combat? Isn’t that what every mother of every soldier from any country wishes for? But it’s not that simple. When our children hurt, we hurt. We want what they want. I want for him what he wants for himself. To see a boy who has grown into a quite a man struggle so hard for something he believes in so strongly, so passionately, not be able to realize this dream is very painful. He will be a driver for the army delivering supplies to soldiers all over the country, traveling from base to base. So, in the not too distant future, Yechezkel will be an Israeli soldier, and I will be a soldier’s mother. I will worry for his safety as any other soldier’s mother would. I will pray for the safety of our country, our home, for the safety of his friends who are in combat units, for all of our soldiers, male and female, and I will miss him when he is not home.
Israel this week again finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place in the eyes of the world. Vice President Biden praises Israel in one breath and condemns her moments later, in another. Israel announced the plan for new housing in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood which was condemned by the United States as an obstacle to peace. Biden also commented that ‘unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues.’ Unilateral action? Building in Jerusalem is a unilateral action? But Arabs throwing stones at soldiers on the Temple Mount, or at worshippers at the Kotel, across from where Yechezkel is learning, is not unilateral action? Did Biden call on the Palestinians to amend their charter which calls for hatred of Jews? How ironic it was to see Biden shaking hands with ‘Abu Mazen’ yesterday standing under a photo of Yasser Arafat! Doesn’t that speak volumes as to the true intentions of the Palestinian leaders. As if this weren’t enough for Israel to digest, the European parliament has narrowly come out and endorsed the Goldstone Report. What has become of the world? Anti-Semitism continues to rear it’s ugly head and the world sits by and perpetuates this nonsense. Not everyone will agree with me, but I will say it anyway. I believe it is time for our leaders to stop talking with the Palestinians and stop apologizing to the US and the world until these ‘facts on the ground’ are implemented.
On a lighter note, we were treated to and surprised by a visit from Silvia and Avraham Borenstein. Silvia and I hugged and cried when we saw each other and it was reminiscent of the last time we embraced and cried in each other’s arms, at the airport, when we left for Israel. We enjoyed a terrific, delicious dinner with them and talked and talked.
School and Yeshiva are winding down now in preparation for Pesach. Yechezkel’s last day at Yeshivat Hakotel for the next year and a half is this Sunday. He gave a siyum tonight on completing masechet megillah and gave a dvar torah to the shiur. Eitan has school for another week and then is off for about three weeks. When he returns to school after Pesach, he will be involved in intensive bagrut preparation. I am searching for a job and as of now, have not been successful. I am working with a recruiter and searching on my own. It takes time, is nerve-wracking and frustrating, but a necessary evil on the path to successful acclimation to Israeli life.
How unbelievable that Pesach is already at our doorstep. We are having a houseful (and more) of guests. I’ve actually lost track of who is coming and going when, but what I do know is Michal and Chezky are coming and will arrive a few days before Pesach. We are thrilled to be seeing them after so long and are excited to be having a full house for Pesach hosting Chavi, Yoni Block and friend, my nephews Dani and Barry. I guess I will be somewhat of a mother to all of them.
The heat wave continues with temperatures today and the last few days in the 80’s and 90’s. Friday and Shabbat will be scorchers and then it is forecasted to cool down to the 60s and 70s. To anyone coming to Israel for Pesach, bring summer clothes!!! It is hot!!! It is even to hot to eat. I’ve been drinking a lot of water and eating light foods. Maybe now I’ll lose weight??
I will sign off now in my usual way. To the mothers like me who will always worry about our children no matter what, here’s a wish of continued strength and of course, patience and humor. I pray for the release of Gilad Schalit and naively hope for war no more. We here in Israel are in desperate need of your unbridled, unconditional and moral support. American Jewry, including Rabbis, educators and everyone else, needs to be more vocal and outspoken in it’s support of Israel and must be vocal against American or any other governmental critics of Israel. Lord knows, not everything in Israel is terrific. You need a lot of patience here. But, Israel is our home. Mine and yours. Constructive criticism is appropriate in some instances but outright vocal and vociferous support is better. In lieu of all that, please come here and stay.
Shabbat Shalom, love and miss you all,