When your son is on the Syrian border

You know something is about to happen. The S#*T hitting the fan in Israel is imminent. Syria is falling to pieces: Assad’s inner defense circle has been crippled, Allepo is burning, and the country’s chemical missiles and biological weapons are the sought-after bounty.

Tourists on the Golan Heights whip out their binoculars to catch a glimpse of the mayhem over the border, and somewhere on top of Mount Hermon, in an intricate maze of bunkers and military lookouts, my son and his company are on alert, catching more than just a glimpse.

At the same time, Syria vomits out threats to use its chemical weapons, Obama spits out the obligatory warnings against it, and Israeli government as well as military officials proclaim that Israel will be forced to deal with the very palpable danger that Syria’s stockpile of chemical missiles will fall into the hands of Hezbollah.

Of course, Israel cannot just sit idly by and let the chemical and biological arsenal of Syria fall into the hands of Hassan Nasrallah. But whose hands are preferred? The rebels?

I think not.

Israel has got to get them. I know it, you know it. The world knows it.

And then, there’s my son. He knows it too. And all the parents of soldiers in the IDF — yeah, they know it too.

So we read the news. We sit on pins and needles. We try to ignore the sickening churning in our guts, and swallow the cry that keeps inching up in our throats.

And all through this, we know we are the ones who sent our sons to the army. And those of us who are new are sometimes unfairly accused — by non-residents of Israel — of “unnecessarily” putting our boys at great risk. Ugly insinuations that we don’t love our children as much as they love theirs permeate into discourse. After all, we didn’t have to move here.

This is said to us as if Israel stands on its own. It doesn’t. Simply put, if we are not willing to fight for it, then we don’t deserve to have it.

And we who live here, whether born into it or having met it head on, know that there is not one Jew alive in this universe that is safe if we do not have a strong State of Israel with an army to defend it. We know the sacrifice. No need to throw it in our face. But, we also know the holiness in serving not only in the Israeli army, but in the army of the people of Israel.

The reestablishment of the State of Israel was no accident − and neither was the reestablishment of its army. We have returned home to the land of our fathers − to the essence of our spirituality as a Jewish nation. Each soul living here makes a supreme sacrifice for the bigger picture involved. And there is always the bigger picture. We know and understand just what that is; that is why we are here. We are not only connected to the Land of Israel; we are the Land of Israel, as evidenced in each bud that has given to bloom since our return.

So while we are well aware of the sacrifice, we also understand that it is a privilege to be here, and we understand the burden that comes with it.

And our sons? They take their rightful place among giborei Yisrael, the heroes of Israel. They keep Israel safe. They enable all Jews in the Diaspora to walk with their heads held high. They keep you out of the ghettos and out of the crematoriums.

Rommi (on the right) in field preps.

Yet, we worry about their feet hurting, sweating, itching in the army boots that they sometimes may not take off for days at a time. We worry about the extreme cold they endure in the northern outposts and the extreme heat on the southern border. We ache over them subsisting on canned army rations. We stomach the knowledge of them existing on the most minuscule amount of sleep pulling up a patch of ground beneath them or waiting in ambush positions for hours on end. We measure the odds in our mind against their assigned order of attack positions. We battle against the most unwanted, frightful thoughts a parent can have when one’s son is on the frontline.

We walk around silently shrieking to God to keep our boys safe – let them come back to us whole and unscarred in their minds and in their hearts.

So I ask you not to judge us, rather, to pray with us for the safety of all our boys.

Rommi (on the left) with his army buddies.

Our sons…we love them no less than you love yours.

About the Author
Author of THE GILBOA IRIS (Gefen Publishing House) and SETTLING FOR MORE: FROM JERSEY TO JUDEA (Urim Publications).