It finally happened.

That email from a friend.

“Are you crazy? Did you really raise your kids to do this? Are you really letting your son make aliyah and get killed in the army? Are you really supporting him? Are you nuts? Don’t you care about your son?”

The email went on and on. Apparently it was sent “because I love you and I care, and because we have a decade-long friendship and I know you’d say the same to me”.

Actually, no, I wouldn’t. How I raise my kids is my business, and I would never ever presume to tell anyone, even a good friend, how to raise theirs. Each child needs different things from their parents, and what is right for Child A might not necessarily be right for Child B.

I wonder, dear friend, if he was joining the US Army, or the Canadian Forces, if you’d have the same thing to say. No. You’d probably harp on about his observance level, or fighting for a nation not his, and asking me where I think I went wrong with him.

And it’s at this point that I wonder if this friendship is based on a misunderstanding of who she is and who I am. See, I am a Zionist. I have always been and I always will be and I have never made a secret of it. As such, I have raised my boys to love the State of Israel, and take it one step further than I have, and to make Aliyah. Phase one of this is in motion. My oldest is making this huge step in August. He turns eighteen in sixteen days and has been looking forward to being old enough to make aliyah for five years. FIVE YEARS.

And I don’t care about him? I am sending him to get killed in the army? HOW DARE SHE? When she takes her family there on vacation, who is protecting THEM? My son and thousands of men and women like him will be making sure that they are safe while visiting. My son, at his tender young age, has a conscience. A conscience that won’t let him stay behind in the USA, living a pampered life, while his cousins serve in the army protecting HIS country. A conscience that makes him need to feel like he belongs, and that he needs to do his part to keep Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael safe. He needs to be in Israel as much as he needs to breathe. I should deny him oxygen??

I am raising my boys to believe they have something to contribute to this world, to find their passion and follow it. That makes me a bad parent? That shows I don’t care about them? Because I have given them space to follow their dreams?

I am so proud. I pray daily that God will keep him and all his brother and sister soldiers safe while they serve, and after. I pray that there is not one more loss of life to terror in Israel. I pray I have the strength to be as supportive of the younger three as I am of the oldest. I pray that if their dreams are different, I will encourage them in the same way.

I pray that my sons will always know that their mom loves them unconditionally, despite the risks, despite the distance, despite everything.

It is because I care, it is because I love him to the point that my heart is bursting with pride and a little sadness, that I “let” him go. But let’s face it. If I didn’t allow him to go, he still would go. He’d be prepared to go against me so that he could be where he knows in his heart he belongs. And at 18, it isn’t about permission. It’s about support, and love. And he has mine. 100%.

How dare anyone try to tarnish what he’s doing?