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Mother of Soldiers  

         The war is here and the sickening dread I feel is terrifying

Living in Melbourne, I never dreamed that my sons would be fighting on battlefields to protect our nation — yet since our family made aliyah in 2010, that’s what I’ve become, a mother of soldiers.

My sons serve or served in what’s called kravi units, combat units. The first to serve, Sruli, was drafted to the Givati Brigade in 2013, serving both on the Gazan and Lebanese borders. My next son, Shuki, was drafted to Nachal Haredi, serving in Yehudah and Shomron. Michi spent nearly two years in a pre-army preparatory course and was then drafted to Sayeret Golani, the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit. Michi was never one to share many details of his army service, but suffice it to say that his unit won an award for bravery after being attacked by a carload of terrorists near Jenin, during which one of the soldiers in his unit had a bullet bounce off his helmet. Eli is currently serving in Sayeret Golani and has been active in Jenin and Shechem over the last year. Just before Rosh Hashanah he received the Chayal Mitz’tayen, the Outstanding Soldier Award.

Being a mother of soldiers is always a multifaceted role. It means washing the Friday afternoon laundry that has just arrived home so that it will dry in time to be packed up for departure on Sunday morning. It means always having a supply of frozen cookies or muffins on hand so that my boys will have something extra to eat on base. It means the early Sunday morning dash to the train station. It means providing the patient, listening ear at whatever hour my sons manage to call and being the personal shopper for the often-obscure items that are needed in a hurry. It means being positive, supportive, and reading between the lines. And it means remembering that chayalim are always hungry (and no, a pita with hummus won’t fill them up).

But then there’s being the mother of soldiers who are fighting a war. When my sons enlisted, I had a vague awareness that there could be a war. But really it was a concept that I pushed out of my mind. Not any longer. The war is here and the sickening dread I feel is terrifying.

Right now, Eli is deployed in the south. Sruli and Michi were called to miluim, reserve duty, with one in the north and one in the south. So far, we’ve managed to speak to them nearly every day, but their phone use is very restricted. I try not to ask for too many details when they call, and they certainly don’t offer any. Everything’s okay, Mum! Sure.

I know that one of them slept outdoors last week, when it was muddy and cold. But everything’s okay, Mum! Baruch Hashem it’s not worse. None of my boys have shown any indication of fear. I am in awe of their positivity, resilience, and commitment to our nation and its defense.

Back at home in Beit Shemesh, life continues to function, although I feel like I’m standing on one leg. Many stores are closed, but I’m not short of food, or anything, really. I try to go about my day, completing the tasks on my daily to-do list but I’m failing; I’m too distracted, too preoccupied. My husband goes to work in his business, as usual — but really, it’s not as usual. The mood is subdued everywhere and there is only one topic of conversation.

I’m more on edge than usual, and I have no patience for irrelevant conversation. Family First is usually my relaxing Shabbos read; I could hardly look at it. I’ve spent more than a few moments wondering where I would hide in my house, should I chas v’chalilah have to. The unfathomable devastation of the south continues to preoccupy my thoughts. The images of destruction are too horrifying to contemplate, unbelievable in their atrocity.

I struggle to understand how this could happen in our own country, and I know that I am not the only one with this dilemma. And I’m angry, ever so angry, and disgusted that Hamas and its supporters could commit such crimes against us, against humanity. And there is the fear I feel for my children….

Don’t go there, my husband tells me, daven that they all return safely. I try to strengthen myself with tefillah, but sometimes even that is hard, really hard.

And of course, there are so many “soldiers” without uniforms fighting this war. My youngest son, Nehemya (Eli’s twin), has been sourcing all manner of equipment for his brothers. Thanks to his resourcefulness, and the generosity of friends in Melbourne (fundraising organized by my daughter Chana), Nehemya has been able to procure many hard-to-get items. Nehemya and a few friends spent much of the past week on the road, traveling to far-flung outlets for supplies and then traveling even further to deliver them — our car has traveled over 300 miles this past week.

We’ve received countless phone calls and messages of support from family and friends in Australia and Israel. Please continue. It is so comforting to know that we are not alone. There are people, both friends and strangers, who are davening and learning for the protection of my sons, for all of our sons. I have no words.

Please, Hashem, return the captives safely, protect our soldiers and grant them victory, heal the wounded, and help us to remove terror from the face of the earth. Please, Hashem....


If I could tell you one thing, it would be:

We’re all in this together. Achdus is really important — now and always.

Please do:

Tell me how much you’re thinking of us and davening for the safe return of the soldiers.

Daven. We need lots and lots of tefillah to get us through this.

Please don’t:

Ask me for details about where my sons are and what they’re doing. I don’t usually know, and when I do, I usually don’t feel like sharing it.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 865)

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