My dear son, my dear Avraham,

The day I gave birth to you was my birthday, and since then you have been my favourite birthday gift. Sharing birthdays with you has been an honour that I deeply appreciate, but sharing every day of your life with you so far has been the biggest gift.

If you would have asked me then, on the day of your birth, where I saw my kids 20 years from then, I probably would not have answered “in the IDF.” I never foresaw you and your two older brothers making aliyah and enlisting in the IDF.

Four and a half years ago Aryeh made aliyah, then a year later, we put Naff on a plane, and two years after that (17 months ago) we said l’hitraot to you, as you jetted off to Israel with your one-way ticket and a dream in your soul.

The first aliyah, the whole of Israel saw your Ima ugly-cry on national TV as Aryeh walked away from us at JFK. The pain of farewell coupled with the pride in my child was an exercise in emotional balance, and remains so to this day with all of you.

There was less fanfare with the Naff, as I am sure you remember — it was during Tzuk Eitan, and he just wanted to get to Israel and start his life. Anxious, me? You bet.

And then we started your countdown…

By the time your aliyah rolled around I had become an expert at what to send with. Most soldiers get their tactical gloves when they have been in the army for a while — I learned to buy them in triplicate, and sent them with you way ahead of time. But no matter how many pairs of thick socks you pack for your future soldier, no one can prepare you emotionally. You do think that it should be easier because you have done it a time or two. The practical matters are easier, for sure, because you do have familiarity. But as I sit here, knowing that in just a few days you, my third son,  will become a soldier, I cannot help but cry.

Avraham, my son, by now your soldier brothers and your soldier cousins have probably told you everything about the army that you could possibly want or need to know (and more than I want to ever know). You know that no matter how many texts you send me that you are fine, eating well, sleeping well, and are safe, that Ima will worry. Because I’m already worrying. I’ve been an army mother for almost 4 years at this point, so I’m a real pro at the sleepless nights and endless worry. There isn’t enough wine or chocolate in this world…

I will probably bug you for photos of you in your uniform (OK, I already have), and will hope for a photo of all three of my soldiers in uniform together. I will probably ask your officer brother to check up on you without you knowing, which he probably cannot do, but that won’t stop me from trying. I will continue to tell everyone I know about my soldiers, and I will bask in my pride in you. Accept it, along with the hugs from random chutznik moms on the street who are in Israel visiting their soldiers and have been tasked with squishing other lone soldiers for the moms who cannot be there.

Avraham, know that you are loved, and know that your safety and the safety of your army colleagues will be prayed for daily, by me, and by many others.

I won’t be there to bensch you right before you start your service, but I will say the words here, and now, the same words I shared with your brothers before they drafted.

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.

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

With love,

Ima.