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Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

Family in Reserves

book illustration by Daniella Koffler

A basic aspect of life in Israel is the requirement that every adult, whether male or female, must serve in the IDF for a few years upon reaching the age of eighteen. While serving in the military, soldiers are trained in one of the many areas in which the IDF engages, whether in a front-line combat unit or in one of the many support units. After being discharged, Israelis are required to be available for annual reserve duty, which usually amounts to two or three weeks of military service each year.

Most Israeli adults who have served in the military for two or three years continue to serve in the reserves until reaching the age at which most of them are no longer required or considered useful. For some individuals this constitutes a turning-point in their lives, while for others it is a blessed release. The period of reserve duty is used to refresh the individual’s knowledge of his or her sphere of activity and also to renew their acquaintance with friends and colleagues serving in the same unit.

When someone is called up to the reserves the rest of the family has to carry on regardless, trying to fill the gap that the individual has left, and hoping that in another week or two their loved one will return and normal family life will resume. In many cases it is the father of the family who is called up, and it is the mother and the children who have to do their best to keep going. Sometimes it is the mother who is called up, and then the reverse is the case, with the father doing his best to undertake the tasks usually performed by the mother of the family. In many cases the extended family, grandparents, uncles and aunts, for example, lend a hand in looking after the family and attending to the various tasks usually undertaken by the missing family member.

In many families, the children are simply told, ‘Dad (or Mum) is in the reserves,’ and there is no further explanation of what is involved. The situation is taken for granted, and the children are expected to accept it as just another fact of life. But many young children have no idea what the concept of being in the reserves actually means.

So now one young mother, Talya Tomer, has decided that it’s time to make it clear to children what it means when they are told ‘Dad is in the reserves,’ and has written a book explaining what happens. In order to make the situation clear she has involved another young mother, Daniella Koffler, to illustrate the text, and together they have launched a crowd-funding campaign on the IsraelGives project app to raise funds to enable them to publish the book, which will be written in Hebrew and distributed gratis to children of parents who have been called up for reserve duty in the IDF.

About the Author
I was born and brought up in England. I am a graduate of the LSE and the Hebrew University. I have lived in Israel since 1964. I am an experienced translator, editor and writer.