The Things They Know

Independence Day in Israel – 63 years of freedom, of living in our land, of knowing that all Jews everywhere have a home. Fireworks last night with friends, more family time today.

We had an amazing barbecue with friends, perched on the edge of the wadi (dry river bed/valley) across from Maale Adumim. It was relaxing; it was fun. A huge block of time just sitting outside and breathing. I can’t remember the last time I did that…well, except for maybe last year. The army brings military vehicles and soldiers to patrol the area. Families come, packed to spend the day outdoors. Children run freely, scampering up the side of the mountain. Music. The smell of barbecues everywhere. We set up our spot, as we did last year, perched just above the soldiers’ camp.

Soldiers guard the tanks and watch the perimeter high above us. The army brings soldiers who instruct the children, teach them about the vehicles and the equipment. They have camouflouge uniforms for the children to try on – and you watch as the child matches the clothes to the land around them.

Shmulik stayed home to spend some time with his new wife; my daughter was home with her husband. It was Elie and my two younger children, friends and their kids. It was a special day because there was no pressure, no computers, no phones ringing. No schedule, no school.

I hated to let the day slip away. But finally we saw others were packing up. The security even came around announcing that they were leaving and those who chose to leave would do so without guards (which was kind of silly since there were still dozens of soldiers around anyway).

We packed up the cars, said our goodbyes, and then, just as we were leaving, Elie looked at the cracked asphalt “road” that was paved a few years ago to let the cars drive down, one time each year, for this huge gathering. The road has deteriorated, perhaps in large part because these massive vehicles tear up the road. We could see the tracks imprinted deeply, scarring the pavement – and then Elie did the most amazing thing.

He started explaining the tracks. “That was a tank,” he explained as he pointed to one set of tracks “going over there. And this is a nagmash going in the other direction.” One by one, he explained the tracks, the shapes they leave behind, and the directions in which they traveled. He knew where the vehicle left the road to travel on the dirt, and where it re-entered it – vehicle for vehicle.

I don’t know why I was impressed or if it is a big deal or not. What touched me, I think, was the idea that there is so much knowledge there, waiting to be tapped. So much he learned on the path to where he is now. In a few weeks, he’ll go back to the army, back into uniform for a short stint in the Reserves.

This is another thing I never imagined my children knowing…way back when I was a new mother holding my infant son. In some far off corner of my naive brain, I might have imagined that he would wear an Israeli uniform someday, but I did not know, way back then, all the many things that would mean. Today was another example, at a time when I had, perhaps naively again, thought I was passed the point of learning more.

Another lessoned learned – our children are a constant source for things we did not know and wishing they didn’t know it either is, ultimately, a denial of reality.

1 Comment on The Things They Know

  1. What a wonderful celebration you had! I could smell the barbecue flavors that you wrote about….I hope to be in Israel next Independence Day! We came right afterwards in 2010, and still saw hundreds of flags everywhere, what an inspiring sight! Our son will arrive as an Ole Hadash on July 11th..we will visit him around Sukkot. Can’t wait…and all of your blogs make me want to be there NOW! Thank you, Jan

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