My Son, the Officer: A Proud Father’s Letter

It was just one year ago, between the Parshiot of Noach and Lech Lecha, that Mommy and I took you to Givat Hatachmoshet, as you began your service to the Nation. It is hard to believe that a year has passed, as we embark on Parshat Lech Lecha to see you appointed an officer of the Israel Defense Forces.Gilad 2

Your commitment, not to the minimum, but to the most you can do for your Nation puts us truly in awe of you. We know that in the course of this time period — in which you’ve been steadfast in refusing to take out the garbage because you’re serving the country — you have continued to make us proud.

Our pride in you has not wavered since your childhood. You have always been dedicated – would some (i.e. your siblings) say stubborn? And you have taken immense pride in doing the right thing, whether for your family or your Nation. The habits of your boyhood and youth now serve you well as an adult.

Certainly you have always been enterprising. In childhood, you rented out pencils for two cents each! Now you serve in the finance department of our very own Air Force (G-d only knows what you’re really selling!).

You have always been full of life. When you were a boy, the sparkle in your eyes made strangers say, איזה שובב – “I can tell that one is a devil!”

You have always been creative and willing to take the lead on any endeavor. Whether agreeing (or perhaps insisting) on having a pie thrown in your face on National TV while on Slime Time Live or when you and Jeremy dug up a tunnel at their house (sorry, Rosenberg’s!).  Now we find you as part of an army needing to rid ourselves of tunnels.

So allow us our pride –and perhaps some joyful tears – at this moment. It is what I think of as a communal pride –one that all who know you will share, reminding me of a story I shared at your “giyus Kiddush.” Last year I had been introduced by someone to an audience as being “my Jewish friend,” and references were made to the Holocaust and the connection to Israel. “You know the Jews make things happen,” was said. I wasn’t quite understanding the point of the introduction and later asked about it. The clarification I received was so beautiful that I share it with you again now as we are in the weeks between Parshat Noach and head into our Land in Lech Lecha – when we speak about Avraham, Noach, and you, Gilad.Gilad 3

The explanation for my introduction: I was told that there are three types of people in this world: 1) Those that make things happen; 2) Those that watch things happen; and 3) Those that ask, “What happened?” We are a people that throughout time — and especially throughout modern history — make things happen. While much of the world will sit and watch and attempt to destroy us – just take a look at what’s happening the world over today — physically, emotionally, and spiritually we continue to strive to do what we think is right.

We often joke that when we lived in the States, we would spend Shabbat meals speaking of the cost of Day School tuition. Since coming home five years ago, the discussion is about why our friends in the States don’t come here. Today, I wonder about this even more.  Those here today make things happen, and we’re proud to be part of this wonderful people, this incredible Nation, and the even more wonderful community of Hashmonaim in which we live.

Gilad, our blessing to you today, as you now take on further challenges – as millions of others have before you in defense of our homeland – is that you maintain the inner chesed, or pure altruism, which allowed Avraham to merit this land in which we live today. Hashem’s attention is constantly focused upon the Land of Israel – as we saw in the story of Noach, shining His kindness on it at all times – no matter how challenging the times may seem. Throughout your continued service and, of course, beyond that, continue to be yourself, furthering your acts of chesed and being a shining example of one who makes things happen.



About the Author
Stuart Katz was born in Panama and grew up in San Diego. He served as National Bnei Akiva Director, is highly educated (for whatever that's worth); managed an airline; made aliyah; traveled to over 80 countries; passionate about reducing mental health stigma in Israel and around the world...he's an entrepreneur and is involved in almost any volunteer project which comes his way
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