This week I put my second son on a plane to Israel. Not for the summer, or a short trip, but for the rest of his life. Naftali made Aliyah on Monday through Nefesh B’Nefesh with 230 other olim, none of whom cancelled or even thought to change plans due to the current situation in Israel.
It didn’t enter my mind to try to talk my son out of it, though many expected me to. Israel is our home – in good times and bad. My oldest son made Aliyah eleven months ago and is now serving in the IDF. I have also been asked if I am making him come “home” too. The fact that he joined the army, took an oath, and is serving his country seems to not matter to some. He isn’t safe so bring him home to North America. That type of thinking hurts me. 33 IDF soldiers have been killed – and I am supposed to tell my son that I don’t allow him to be part of the army that supports his country? One soldier’s life is more important than the next?
My sons have made the choice to return home, and to give to their country. Naftali will be drafted within the next year, and like his brother he will serve to the best of his ability.
I had a long talk last week with my soldier son, who had the “honour” of cleaning toilets in his base last week. He gave me a great perspective. He told me that even though he wasn’t fighting in Gaza, and he was more or less safe on base, his contribution to the war is an important one. Even cleaning toilets is part of the defense of Israel. Every soldier – no matter what role they have – is one small part of a huge unit.
I was thanked this week by several people who knew about my son’s Aliyah and about my oldest serving in the IDF. Yes, there are many American Jews who are proud of MY boys, who express gratitude that my sons have made a choice to defend Israel . There are some that have told me they wish they could be brave enough to allow their boys to make Aliyah.
In the airport on Monday there was heightened security and my youngest son who is 12 saw three US soldiers, armed to the hilt, patrolling. Being a 12 year old boy his eyes grew large and he wanted a picture with them. Afterwards I thanked them, and I also thanked them for their service. Soldiers give up their right to choose sides and have opinions when they join the army. They live to serve. Every soldier needs our gratitude. How much more so do soldiers who are living in a war zone, fighting for their country’s right to even exist?!
So when someone says to me “If they send your son to Gaza, will you let?” I just want to scream. No, it isn’t easy being so far away. But it isn’t easy being close by either, I am sure, and having one’s child in the army, not necessarily able to check in daily is extremely difficult. I cannot imagine the chutzpah that brings someone to ask me that. How is that conversation supposed to go?
“Soldiers – at attention!!”
“We’re leaving now to Gaza – call your moms and ask if they give you permission.”
Seriously? Yes, of course I want my sons to be safe, but I want ALL our sons and daughters to be safe. Those thirty three soldiers that have been lost to this current conflict – I wanted them safe too and I grieve for them and their families.
I am proud of each and every soldier. I am proud of the chayalim bodedim (lone soldiers) who have made the decision to leave their birth countries and move to Israel and serve in the IDF. I will not listen to criticism of my parenting – how can people call me a bad mother because I stand behind my boys’ decision to live in Israel and be part of the best army in the world? How dare they say I don’t love them enough because I won’t force them to come home?
My sons are the future of Israel, and I am proud of them. Israel is proud of them. It’s been said that there is no such thing as a lone soldier in Israel and it is true. Israel has adopted its lone soldiers as their own sons and daughters.
May this war be over soon, may no more of our precious soldiers lose their lives, and may there be peace in Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai!!