In our home, serving in miluim (reserve duty) does not entail a question mark. It is what needs to be done to ensure that our country has the reserves necessary to defend itself in times of war. My husband and I both served in the IDF. We actually met when his unit was sent up north to defend our tiny outpost on the Lebanon border.
He has been called up to miluim from the moment he was discharged from mandatory service. He received the dreaded Tzav 8 call during the Second Lebanon War, and defended our home alongside conscripted soldiers. I said it then, and I will say it again, I cried once in front of him, then stood behind him throughout the rest of the war.
That is what we do, us wives of Miluimnikim (reservists). The thought that does not cross most people’s minds, however, is when they get called up, it is up to us wives to defend the home front. I have yet to meet the wife who has complained about the added burden of becoming a single mother or having to change her normal reality for a period of a week, 2, 3, or an entire month.
There are enough other issues to complain about. The fact that the military rarely gets its logistical act together in time for the beginning of the reserve duty, and often our husbands are stuck sitting around for days and even weeks, until supplies, equipment, and provisions are prepared for them (during which we ARE allowed to question why we need to take up everything at home for them to sit around, do nothing, apart from becoming insanely bored).
Then there is the fact that the IDF just loves to call up its reservists at exactly the worst times in their own personal lives. Last year, my man was called up for a month during the peak month season for his small business (landscaping), which effectively killed our chances of having a decent income (the IDF averages salaries for independent business owners, thus the average doesn’t take into consideration high and low seasons), and we lost no small amount of business.
There is no such thing as picking a better time to serve miluim, you either do it or you don’t. If you don’t, you need a damn good reason, plus permission, not to serve, or you are breaking the law. Simple as that.
Here is my grievance. Those men (and these days women, as well) serve in miluim, give up about a month of their lives to train and to defend the state of Israel every single year; we wives who are generally overloaded as it is (at least those of us with children) pick up all of the slack at home; the IDF can’t get their logistical act straight enough to manage miluimniks wisely and efficiently; business owners lose money and business when called up at inopportune times; our children keep growing, abbas may well miss wonderful firsts, and our children dearly miss their abbas. The worst part, however, is that we bear the knowledge that our husbands do not always come home alive and in one piece.
We do this without questioning because we know that miluim is necessary. It can and does ensure the survival of our home in times of war and peace. But why do we have to be the friarim (suckers)? Why do some Jewish Israeli populations get a free ride, free defense, free services, and free money at our own expense both financially and through payment of our lives?
It is not fair, but that is just childish to end it like that.
Over the weekend a demonstration was held in Tel Aviv calling for equal enlistment in the IDF. I was thrilled to know that the wives of miluimnikim also organized and demonstrated… for exactly those reasons I listed above, and then some. We wives bear a heavy burden, and it was made clear by the over 20,000 men and women protesting in Tel Aviv.
We will never demand that our husbands stop serving and defending our home and their families. For our country’s survival, not serving in miluim is simply not an option. We do demand that the entire burden is not placed upon only a portion of the Jewish Israeli population, because that is just not fair.