Talya Woolf

We are still not okay

January 3, 2024

Headline on Times of Israel: Hezbollah chief threatens Israel over Arouri hit, warns of no-holds-barred war

Vignette #1:

I saw a two-car procession yesterday, one with a siren and one was a military van. We passed by each other a few times in traffic, me in the left lane, him in the right. I had a bad feeling I knew what it was.

This morning, my husband finished his miluim (reserve duty) and turned in his uniform. Driving home from being released, he saw a two-car procession, one with a siren, one a military van. His buddy, one of the other reservists, said that pair of vehicles is for one thing only – to bring a fallen soldier to his final resting place.

We are up to 175 soldiers killed in this war that we didn’t start. A war that has been going on for almost three months.

We aren’t a big country. 22,145 square kilometers (8,330 square miles); 420km in length and 115km across at its widest point (290 miles long and 85 miles at its widest point).

That’s about the same as New Jersey or Wales (if that helps).

We have about 9.8 million people living here. Jews make up the majority (at 73.2%, or 7.2 million). It seems like a lot, but just like you seem to always run into the same people in New York City, the same is true here.

Jews’ favorite game is Jewish Geography. Heard of it? Jew#1 asks Jew#2 who they know, and they work back to see what the degree of separation is. Spoiler: It is NEVER more than three.

I once met a new friend in a bar in Southeast Michigan. He was visiting from LA on some type of business trip. We struck up a conversation, realized we were both Jewish, played the game, and found only two people between us (one of whom in Chicago). Three degrees. Same is true in Israel (maybe less).

So when you’re driving and you see this procession, you know it’s not distant.

Vignette #2:

After being home sick all morning, I went to pick up my 5yo daughter from gan. Another mom was picking up her little daughter at the same time. The saya’at (assistant teacher) brought them both to the front and whispered to the other mom that her daughter had a very emotional day.

And you could tell she still was. She was very upset that her mom had picked her up, because, in her mind, this meant her Abba had gone back to fight in Gaza. In truth, he was at work, but he’d been gone for so long, so many times, the little one couldn’t understand. Her mom held her tight and explained to the teacher that, unfortunately, this was nothing new. In fact, her husband went down to take the garbage out one day and the 5yo thought he left again.

My heart tore and I teared up hearing the story. This sweet 5 year old. She is old enough to remember this – this is not something she should be experiencing.

Vignette #3:

My husband is now done with miluim (for now). Yesterday was his last early morning shift. For almost three months he’s been gone many mornings by the time the kids wake up.

Almost every morning, I wake them up, ensure they eat breakfast, make their lunches, help the littles get dressed, get the big ones out the door, and take the youngest to gan.

For weeks now, my oldest has told me that he misses Abba. It’s not like we don’t see him every night, but it’s not the same. He still had to work the same hours. He occasionally had trainings, events, etc. He was exhausted by the time he would get home, being up at 4am to run shifts.

But this morning, they saw him when they woke up. In civilian clothes with no rifle. They were overjoyed.

This afternoon, when my husband was there to pick them up, they were ecstatic.

And now, since he’s out, we’re able to go visit the grandparents for Shabbat. It’s joyous really.

– – –

I still review all the names of the fallen IDF soldiers daily, just in case. I saw one just yesterday where I recognized the name (and what a name) – Amichai Yisrael Yehoshua Oster – but I can’t figure out why.

Mourners gather around the grave of Sgt. First Class (res.) Amichai Yisrael Yehoshua Oster at the Karnei Shomron military cemetery on January 2, 2024. (Sam Sokol/Times of Israel)

Today, the fallen soldier was an only child. One who had asked his parents to waive his exemption (only children are not obligated to serve) so that he could fight. Because why should he have to suffer and not defend his country. They signed, as I would have.

Who will tomorrow be? How distant?

I hate to ask.

About the Author
Talya Woolf is an eight-year Olah with four spirited children and a fantastic husband. She is a writer, American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically confusing, Modern Orthodox (though she doesn't dress the part), and ardent Zionist (ZFB). She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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