Dear son, dear Aryeh,

Eight short months ago we said goodbye at JFK, as you left to make Aliya, and I placed my hands upon your head. I blessed you as I have blessed you every week since you were born. I cried. Later, on the evening news, the whole of Israel saw me cry as you walked away from us, excited to start your new life. My tears were tears of sadness for myself – here you were, all grown up, starting your own life, far, far away. But tears of happiness too were present – I was happy that you chose to live in Israel, that you chose to follow your dream, and that you were going to make us proud.

You’ve been studying in Ulpan, and learning and adapting to Israeli culture. You’ve sounded so very happy every time I have spoken to you, or seen your face on Skype. You have made friends everywhere you have gone, and have connected with family. You have made a life for yourself.

For the last six weeks since most of your friends started putting on their uniforms, and leaving for their army service, most of your conversations have included the wish to be in uniform already. April 30th couldn’t come fast enough for you. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is April 30th. Tomorrow is the day you will don your IDF uniform, and you will become a soldier. Tomorrow is the day you have looked forward to for years.

Driving home today it hit me full force. My time of protecting you is over. I did my job as your mother for almost nineteen years – I have protected you, nurtured you, watched you grow and learn, I have tried to care for your every need. Your happiness and safety always came first.

Tomorrow, son, tomorrow you begin to help shoulder the burden of the protection of our people with your IDF brothers and sisters. Tomorrow you become the protector. Tomorrow you give up three years of freedom and fun to serve Israel and her people.

I wish I could be there with you, to send you off with a kiss on your cheek. I wish I could be there to bless you as so many parents bless their new soldiers before sending them off to their army service.

Please take a moment, my son, to feel my love around you, my lips upon your brow, and my hands placed upon your head. Please hear my whispered prayer:

Yevarechecha Adonai Veyishmerecha  - May God bless you and keep you.

Yaer Adonai Panav Eleycha Veechoonecha – May God shine His face upon you and be gracious to you.

Yeesa Adonai Panav Eleycha Veyasem Lecha Shalom – May God watch over you always and bless you with peace.

Son, we are all so proud.

Serve with pride, serve with dignity, serve with love.

With love,

Ima.