The Army’s Last Dance…

Elie finished his course last week and came home. Two weeks of vacation…and then he goes to turn in his uniforms and receive his Reserves card. That was the plan…but alas, the army had one last dance. He got a call from his commanding officer. Today there was to be a massive exercise – live ammunition – and they needed him to come.

He has trained another to do the specialized task he does, but while Elie did it hundreds of times in training, perhaps even thousands if you count the Gaza War, this soldier has never actually done this with live ammunition.

“They just have to hit a mountain,” I complained. How hard can that be?

Well, it seems the army disagrees with me. Elie explained that according to the rules of the army, you can’t pull someone off vacation except under conditions of war or special permission. They got the special permission.

So, I drove Elie to his base last night and as we pulled through the checkpoint, the only car passing through at the time, the soldiers called out, “Elie, Elie, Elie” and crowded on both sides of the car to greet him.

Whatever upset he had at losing his vacation was gone in the warmth of the greeting. He returned to base and was welcomed. Today, they took him back up north to shoot at a mountain and impress some higher-ups. He’ll return tomorrow some time and that will be that…or so we believe.

The next day, Chaim enters the army…and next Tuesday it is Shmulik. I asked Shmulik if he was nervous. Silly question for a mother to ask and of course he said no. I guess it is me who is nervous.

Shmulik has all that he needs for the army and so all that is left for me to do…as it was three years ago…is to consider that my sons are where I would have them be, doing what I believe in…and thankfully, what they believe in.

If you love your country, wherever you live, you must be willing to defend it and the life you live there. And perhaps the hardest of all truths is that if you want our children to love your country, their country, you have to be prepared to let them serve.

It is a Jewish custom that a boy is circumcised eight days after birth. It is not an easy ceremony – not for the child and not for the mother. After Elie’s birth, I asked the rabbi if it got easier with each child or if we should start wishing or girls.

He laughed and said it got easier. Less than three years later, when Shmulik was born…I walked over to the rabbi and told him he lied. He was a bit surprised…until I reminded him of our conversation.

Does the army get easier with the second and third and fourth child? I don’t know…maybe a bit. Perhaps the real gain is in understanding what we can expect, where he will go.

Who knows? Today, the army took Elie for a dance…next week, Shmulik starts his spin and me…I guess I’m getting ready for the infernal roller coaster and hoping the flat, easy part lasts a good long time.

1 Comment on The Army’s Last Dance…

  1. I love reading your posts about your boys. This is maybe my 3rd time to try to put into words how it affects me personally.
    My oldest just turned 6 in Texas, but he knows that he was born in Jerusalem, although having been raised in America for the most part, I am not sure that he knows exactly what that means.
    My son’s Israeli father did not serve in the army, partly for health related reasons and partly because his [over-protective] father and at least 2 uncles were career soldiers.
    My son’s birthday sparked the conversation that I would like for him to have the opportunity to make the choice to serve Israeli army, since it is an integral part of the Israeli culture/mentality [that we as parents cannot expose him to]. This of course as we are making arrangements to send him to an American Jewish Day school for first grade-how bizarre. To me it seems so far off. I still have to get through many years of school and summer camp (where I thought we’d send them to American Jewish sleep-away camps, but my husband thinks summers in Israel would be more beneficial-we’re still working through that issue-he’s too young to do either at this point, and I might be pretty easily persuaded to send the kids to spend some time with the grandparents and extended family in Israel) and a Bar-Mitzvah before we get to have a soldier-aged son, but I appreciate seeing the soldier’s world through another mother’s eyes. Thanks for your insightful posts and for giving me a personal glimpse into what the future may hold for my own son.

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