Monday, July 28, 2014

Sending My Son Off to War

He was called up on the first day of Protective Edge but at that time he was seriously ill with mono. The doctors told him not to go, the officers told him not to go, and family members told him not to go. I told him he wasn’t a slacker, rather he was sick but he felt guilty not being with his unit. Day after day he felt better and better until there was no holding him back. His wife and children gave him their blessings to don his uniform. So two weeks after the beginning of the war he came to Shilo to say goodbye.   

Signaling to make a right turn onto the highway at the Shilo junction, I saw his car turn left from the highway to the Shilo access road. I was caught unawares since I hadn’t expected him so early. There was too much traffic for me to make a U-turn. I had noticed a police car on the shoulder of the road several hundred meters behind me so decided it wouldn’t be prudent to put my car in reverse. Impatient with my indecision the driver behind me laid on his horn. I waved him around me and he took off. 
Wavering, I saw that my son had parked his car on the opposite side of the road. Hesitating no longer, I punched the emergency light, put on the hand brakes, turned off the motor, and jumped out of the car. I ran to my son. He ran to me. We met in the middle of the road right in front of the policeman. I grabbed him in a bear hug and he grabbed me. He thought I was crying but I was laughing. I wouldn’t send him off to war with tears. Those came later.   

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Battered Wife Syndrome

On the first day of Protective Edge I found myself travelling north past Beit Shean, past the Kinneret, even past Katzrin. Almost to the Syrian border we stopped our car and parked at the side of the road. We were just a drop late for our son-in-law’s army ceremony. In the course of the twenty-eight years I have lived in Israel I have been to a number of army ceremonies. They all seem to have several factors in common. They are boring, usually hot, and the family members attending always bring goodies for their loved ones. Despite all this I know it’s important to attend them. The soldiers need all the moral support they can get. On that Wednesday afternoon, the first day of war, I couldn’t think of anything I would have rather been doing and I was rewarded for my efforts. My son-in-law was presented with an excellent soldier certificate.
From one of my sons' army ceremonies

Monday, July 14, 2014

Are You Okay?

It’s been a hard question to answer lately. Although I truly appreciate the caring phone calls and emails I find it hard to respond. Normally an optimistic and positive person, I am very uncomfortable admitting that life is not so great right now in Israel. For the last month tension has become the norm.  Yet, along with the anxiety and stress we are turning together more and more to HaShem and that gives me hope. I pray that our unity continues.

Last week, on the second day of the current war, I attended a brit milah in the holy city of Safed. With its ancient synagogues, winding alleys, colorful artist’s colony, and vibrant population Safed is a most special place. The hesder yeshiva where the brit was held is a most unique place inside this special city. Under the leadership of Rav Ayal boys from all over Israel commit themselves to the army for five years. Part of those years they are obligated to learn in the yeshiva and be prepared to be called into service at a moment’s notice. Part of the years is spent in active duty. At the time of the brit a number of the young men had been called up to war and were missing from the yeshiva.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Condemning Murder

Anyone who was not in Israel in the summer of 2005 cannot understand the heartbreaking rift between the Jewish people at the time of the Expulsion from Gush Katif. As then-Prime Minister Sharon bulldozed his plan for unilateral withdrawal, hoards of Israelis participated in protests, civil disobedience, and prayer services. Many others condemned the protests and applauded as scores and scores of demonstrators, the majority of them teenagers, were arrested and sent to Ma’asiyahu Prison where a special wing had been opened to house the political prisoners.

Nothing could stop the evacuation of the beautiful towns and villages in Gush Kaitf and northern Shomron, though. The ordeal began on August 17th as soldiers were deployed to evict thousands of sobbing residents from their homes.
 Along with them hundreds were arrested for trying to block the army. One woman, Yelena Businov, went so far as to immolate herself in protest. In light of all this, Asher Weisgan took it into his head to murder four Arabs in cold blood.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Evil Eye

There were about a dozen women at the special spot inside the Kotel tunnels. Some were regulars and others were new faces. A few were deep in meditation. Others were busy reciting the morning prayers or chapters of psalms. I hadn’t been there long when a woman I had never seen before arrived. She was about my age and seemed quite comfortable to be at the special spot. Perhaps she was another regular, just not on the days I usually came. Her face was beaming and she was all smiles. She opened her mouth to speak and instead of a soft, whispery voice she addressed us in an enthusiastic tone.

“I just have to share my joy with you,” she announced happily. “Last night my grandson got engaged and on Shabbat we celebrated another grandson’s marriage. I’m so happy!”

Some of the women smiled and nodded their heads.  Others stopped their prayers to wish her mazel tov. I, however, stared at the woman in shock.  Wasn’t she afraid of the Evil Eye?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Miracle

For two and a half weeks we prayed for a miracle. And we received a miracle. Only it wasn’t the miracle we had asked for. Our miracle was the unbelievable unity among the Jewish people for the last eighteen days. My prayer is that HaShem will see that unity and use all the prayers we prayed to bring true redemption. May the families of Naftali, Gil-ad, and Eyal –and all of us- find true comfort among the mourners of Zion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

She Spent Her Wedding Night With Two Hundred and Twenty One Men: A True Love Story (some facts have worn thin with time)

She was a nursing student, an orphan with eight siblings to look out for her. He was a World War Two veteran, a refugee from Nazi Germany. They met at a picnic organized by the Jewish community for young adults. Two different women always claimed that they were the ones who had introduced the couple. It didn’t matter who was the one. What mattered was that they met each other. There was a courtship and then an engagement.

By then She had finished nurses’ training and signed up for the United States Army Nurse Corp. She was supposed to be sent to Fitzsimons Hospital in Denver. He was established in Wichita, Kansas, working for a cousin in a men’s clothing store. She was not sure what to do, torn between her dream of being an army nurse and her desire to be close to her man.

“Go, do your service,” He told her. “Otherwise you will always wonder what you gave up for me.”

She heeded his advice until the Korean War broke out several months later. Hearing the news, He took a week off work, boarded the all-night train to Denver, and was at the hospital first thing in the morning.

“We have to get married before they ship you overseas,” He told her.