Someday, I’m going to have to let Aliza grow up. I know it and I’m sure I’ll let it happen, but right now, I still think of her as a little girl. She’s almost 12. Wow, that sounds old. It’s so much easier to say she is 11 and 3/4. She’s an aunt; she babysits and still, she is my baby.
So my baby woke up this morning with a stomach ache. She slept late because we went last night to the youth group ceremony (B’nei Akiva, Shabbat Irgun) where each group gets their name. From fourth grade to eight grade, the names are set. A child that moves from 5th to 6th knows they will be part of the Ma’alot group, just as the last group in line knows they are “Ha-Roe”. In 9th grade, something extraordinary happens. The group receives a unique name and each child carries it with them – literally for life.
“It’s a diplomatic way of saying how old you are,” one woman explained to me last night as I told her that I don’t have a name, a group. I grew up in America – more, I grew up in a non-religious environment and the youth group I attended was much less organized than the massive organization that is known as B’nei Akiva. Each year on Shabbat Irgun (a Sabbath dedicated to the organization that follows a month of activities), two strings are stretched across the neighborhood basketball court and the parents, and even grandparents, come down off the bleachers and stand under the strings – each marked with a name – dating back as much as 50 years or more.
I’ll try to write more about last night – and maybe I’ll even upload some of the videos I took. That’s for the next post or so – for now, I”ll explain that Aliza is still in bed because the children are given a few hours off school, knowing they will be out late – and they were.
So Aliza called me at the office a few minutes ago, She says her stomach hurts and her head hurts and she doesn’t want to go to school, “Who’s home?” she asked. Her father and the youngest of her three brothers.
“Is Elie working?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered, “he started this morning.” Elie went last week to speak to the organization that handles security in the local mall. He was sure (and he was right) that they would be thrilled to add a combat soldier to their list of employees. Elie’s already trained in much they need, beyond even the basics. What skills he brings are likely never to be needed and yet it raises the organization’s standing simply to have a higher level combat soldier.
They’ll send Elie to the same course they sent Shmulik to last week – but more of a formality and perhaps like the course in first aid that was mandatory during the army (see Respecting Knowledge), Elie will feel that he knows so much of what they will teach and may even disagree with some of what he learns. It will be interesting to see Elie handle this when the course is civilian and not military. Elie could likely teach the course, certainly when it comes to spotting and handling potential problems. Elie has handled Israelis who are annoyed by the delays.
Aliza contemplated Elie starting as a security guard. It was a surprise for her. “He decided ’cause he’s getting married he needs to work or something? It’s the second time they are meeting in work,” she said. I know she is talking about Shmulik, who has been working as a security guard for about eight months ago.
But I love the way her mind works and I was already smiling as I prompted, “the second time?”
“They met in the army in the same time. It wasn’t exactly work but same thing.”
No, they weren’t in the army together – not the same unit, not even the same time. They didn’t do the same things and no, they never actually met while both were in uniform. Elie finished his service the same week Shmulik began his, but in the mind of a child, her brothers weren’t home and that’s what mattered.
We have been to the mall many times when Shmulik has been on shift. For Aliza, it is amusing to see her brother standing there at the entrance. She gets to walk through without hesitation (as do I) and smiles as if she is the most important girl in the mall – HER brother, after all, is the security guard. Now she will have Elie there sometimes too.
No, I don’t want her to realize that soon both will not only be standing at the entrances, but will be armed. There is a serious side to being a security guard – a side I don’t want her to think about, though I do.
Right now, Shmulik is happy to have the job close to home and his wife. Elie knows that he can earn more money being a security guard in Jerusalem, even more for the trains. By and large, the job of being a security guard in Maale Adumim is boring and uneventful. I can only think of two instances in the last 8 months that were out of the ordinary. One was when an imminently stupid woman left her child in a locked and closed car to go to the post office and a passerby saw the crying, very red young child and very correctly picked up a rock and smashed his way into the car – calling the security and ambulance at the same time. The child was fine…the mother rightfully taken for questioning.
The second was when an Arab came to the mall and was angry that Shmulik wanted to see his identification. The Arab works at the mall and was angry that Shmulik didn’t know him and just automatically let him pass. When the Arab refused to cooperate, Shmulik called the police. The Arab was taken from the mall and escorted to the front of the city and both the security company and the police agreed that Shmulik had handled it correctly.
This is the side of being a security guard that Aliza doesn’t know about, doesn’t consider…this and so much more. I’m happy to have Elie working in the mall here in a quiet city that has, well, remained quiet. I really don’t want him working in Jerusalem. It’s the coward in me that I have to face…and yet I’m happy not to face it.
For now, I’ll just enjoy Aliza’s surprise at learning that her brothers are working close to each other (schedules and assignments allowing for it). I haven’t had a chance to really discuss it with Shmulik to see how he feels about it. He’s built friendships and staked a position there. Elie is louder and more decisive in personality. They are so different – Shmulik as physically strong but gentler in soul. Shmulik will come to a situation and watch; Elie will come and where he feels command is missing, he will step in. I can easily see how Shmulik goes to work and does the job; while Elie will evaluate and analyze how things are done, how they can be better, safer, more efficient. It’s just a difference in who they are. Neither better than the other; both so different.
As a mother, it is interesting to watch how they handle situations. My oldest three children were born within five years of each other – and now will all marry within a five year period. Our family grows, shifts, absorbs, changes. It is a message of life they take with them. There are such blessings in your children, beyond all you could imagine before they came to you, beyond all you can imagine even as they grow.
I titled this blog post “Simply Brothers” – I’m not sure why now. Sometimes, I pick the title and then write it; sometimes I write it and then pick the title. Last night, I watched my youngest son at the youth group ceremony. He is in the oldest group – now replaced by the incoming group. Next year, he may choose to be a counselor in the organization – he already says he wants to be one. He was among the tallest. It was very cold as we sat outside watching the performances. I had a long shirt and a sweater, and I was still cold. Davidi had a short sleeve shirt. I asked him where his jacket was – he had given it to someone else and even though he was cold, he wouldn’t take it back.
Simply brothers. Three of them – their own, and mine. So very mine. Two will now work as security guards, protecting others. It is, to some extent, a test of faith. To let them go, to let them be cold. To realize they are their own, even as they remain mine.