The transition from being a mother of a 20 year old son, to the mother of a 20 year old son who is a chayal, a soldier, in the Israeli Army is a unique one indeed. A mother worries when her son goes off to college or when he embarks on some new uncharted adventure in his life and the son just goes about his business, worriless. But this is totally uncharted territory for me. A mother worries and the soldier goes about his business. This mother saw her son off this past Tuesday with pride, with tears and fears and with hopes and prayers for my son’s easy adjustment into the army and for his safety and well being. My ‘soldier boy’ Yechezkel embarked on his life as a soldier eagerly and courageously, yet with some trepidation.
I know I am not the first Israeli mother to send her son off to the army and I certainly won’t be the last. I am not the first to worry and unfortunately, I know there will be many more mothers to follow who will feel the same as I. But I do have a unique perspective on this, in that we are only here about seven months, are not fully acclimated to our lives here. Yet we now have a son in the army. Most new olim don’t experience that for at least a year after their aliyah, but knowing Yechezkel, we knew he wouldn’t wait. The emotional pendulum I’ve been riding over the last few days has left me somewhat drained yet emboldened (and with a few more grey hairs to show for it). Drained because I await anxiously for that rare, short phone call I may receive, and emboldened for the courage my son has demonstrated and is teaching me to have. I have never ever felt so attached to my cell phone. It has become, literally a part of me, tethered to my side at all times. Yechezkel the soldier is indeed going about his business. He told us that nothing is done without permission from the commander, the ‘mefaked’. No shower, no phone call, no bathroom break, nothing. And you all thought I was tough!! But seriously, relinquishing parental rights and authority of your son to the army is difficult. Fortunately, he will be home for Shabbat and for the first day of Pesach, and returns to base on Wednesday. He is so happy being in the army, he says it’s ‘awesome.’ He loves the army mentality.
We have all been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Michal and Chezky. Everyday for the past two weeks or so, we’ve been counting down the days. Eitan would say next week Michal is coming, five days, three, tomorrow, etc. My heart is filled with such pride and joy this Shabbat since we are to be a complete family again. Michal and Chezky arrived yesterday, Thursday, for a two and a half week visit, and Eitan and I went to meet them at the airport. They look wonderful and I can’t wait to have those talks, those laughs and the fun we are used to. We are having many guests for Pesach, but this Shabbat, it is just us, our family, reconnecting, bonding again as one entity, one family. I thank God everyday for my blessings, my family.
Pesach is approaching quickly and I am not nearly ready, but I will be. Our seder will be wonderful, joyous and intellectually stimulating. Meyer will have divrei torah, I will initiate a topic for discussion of interest to me, one discussed in Ulpan, Michal and Chezky have planned something, not sure what, but they’ve assured us that the Seder will be amazing and I can’t wait. I know Yoni and his friend David will offer their own contributions from things they’ve learned at Yeshiva, and Yechezkel and Eitan will give their divrei torah. Wow. A unique Seder it promises to be. We only wish we could be sharing with more of our friends and family.
In closing, I want to wish you all a Chag Sameach. I don’t know that I have the right to ask, but I ask anyway. We have all said tefillot for our chayalim and many have known families with chayalim, or have had chayalim in your own family. For those of you who haven’t known a chayal until now, I ask that when you are in shul this yom tov, listen intently to the misheberach for the chayalim. Israel is an isolated country, alone in the world and the matzav is concerning. Yechezkel is based close to Gaza. His is not a unique situation, but now I feel what other mothers of other soldiers feel. Therefore, we all need to pray for the safety and protection of our country and all of our soldiers. I will say a special prayer at my Seder for Gilaad Shalit and I will cherish this chag with my complete immediate family. I wish for all of you joy, happiness and health and loads and loads of fun with your guests.
Chag Sameach to all,