Like the blink of an eye, our middle daughter, Ayelet, is about to finish her two years of service in the IDF.  As she left for her base today for her last full week in the army, I placed my hands on her head, as I had done for nearly every Sunday for the past two years, and gave her a blessing.

Two  years ago, my wife, Andy and I, got into the car and took Ayelet to Baku”m (the main intake center for all soldiers) and watched before our eyes as she transformed from an Olah Chadasha, civilian to a soldier in the IDF. Bursting with pride, we turned away headed to the car and Ayelet headed towards her new life.

Basic training was followed by a varied series of events that would eventually end up with Ayelet becoming a shooting instructor (via life-size simulators) to all soldiers beginning their service in Nahal. My daughter, the shooting instructor? She was going to train soldiers who would then go to a shooting range and — if necessary — into battle? How exactly would that work and how would she transform herself from that kind, quiet, gentle, smiley soul to one who had to give orders and instruct these young soldiers?

In no time, it became quite clear that she was seemingly “made” for this job. Her proficiency both in shooting and instructing made her commanders very happy and “her” soldiers admired her for the excellence in training that she provided them.

And as for me–it seemed that I was willing to proudly tell ANYONE who would listen what she did in the IDF and how proud we were that she was doing it. The person helping me in the store; the soldier checking out the car at the checkpoint;  the person sitting next to me on the bus….all of them were regaled with the story of how this young  Olah Chadasha  was on her way to being the next RamatKal (Chief of Staff of the Army)!

And now, that her service is coming to an end and she prepares to re-enter society as a civilian, I reflect back on these past two years and am so grateful! I am grateful to Hashem that we live in Israel and that my daughter chose to serve this country through her service in the army. I am grateful that her experience overall was very positive and invested in her some wonderful new skills that she will be able to make use of in her future, civilian life. I am grateful that Ayelet is proud of what she did in the army and is willing to share that pride with others. I am grateful to the IDF for taking care of our “little girl” for these past two years.  But most of all, I am grateful that she was given this opportunity and came out a shining star.

We are proud of all who serve or served in the IDF and all of those who serve the country through Sheurt LeUmi.  But at this moment in time, our family pauses to salute our daughter, Samal (Sergeant) Ayelet Shandalov. May Hashem continue to bring light to your life and may you always be in a position to serve the country that we call Home.