Once again the army is preparing to rotate its troops - not in a physical sense necessarily, but in the sense that many soldiers will be coming in, many soldiers leaving, and many moving to new and challenging responsibilities. Elie doesn't love where he is now. It's challenging, and interesting, but a large part of his responsibilities, when he isn't at the checkpoint, is dealing with supervising equipment and he doesn’t like that. He enjoys commanding more then inventorying, apparently.
Last rotation, in embarrassment for putting him in a position of having to choose between two rights (Two Rights Don't Make a Wrong), Elie’s Magad (Commander of the G’dud) told him that Elie would have his choice come November. Well, November is here. Elie was asked to come to an interview to be a Commander of the Commanders course. He told me the interview went very well and that he was surprised when they showed him the list of recommended options he was given after having completed the Commanders course.
For one thing, they recommend officer training for Elie. I asked if Elie wanted this. It’s a big responsibility, but also a big commitment. He would have to agree to stay in the army another 16 months and he’s not sure he wants to do that. He sees his sister and brother-in-law (who elected to not serve in the army in favor of long-term learning). He sees his brother (who has elected to enter the program known as Hesder, which combines service and learning and will therefore only serve about 18 months in the army), and he wants begin a life after the army.
The interview went well and they said they would let him know. A few days later, his Magad came into the room and told Elie that they were not sure it would work out because they prefer to have a commander assigned to this task for two rotations…and during the second rotation, the female soldiers Elie would have been assigned previously will be eligible for the Commanders course.
The Magad is checking to see whether there will be female soldiers assigned to his units during this incoming draft in November. If not, Elie could be assigned the basic and advanced training groups, fulfilling the army’s need, and Elie’s. The nice part was that the Magad assured Elie that no matter what happens, this has everything to do with Elie’s preference not to command a unit with female soldiers, according to his religious requirements, and nothing to do with any limitation the army sees in his abilities.
If that does not work out, the options are still open for other positions. So, in short, we are, once again, back in a holding pattern for knowing what Elie will do in the coming months. If Elie does not go to the training base as a commander for a training course, he’ll be back into training with the artillery unit for some of the time and to a checkpoint or the northern border for other periods of time.
I asked him when he would know and he told me – as with all things – when the army wants to tell him and perhaps not much more than a few days before the decision, whatever it may be, is implemented. There is less of the unknown here. We’ve sampled most of the options already and know what they involve. He’s been on the border with Syria and the border with Lebanon and Egypt. He’s been in the desert and even in the snow. He’s been in the cold and the hot; the wet, the humid, and the incredibly dry. He’s been in training, he’s taken courses, and he’s been on the checkpoints dealing with real and potential danger for months now.
In short, we (Elie and I) have become seasoned travelers on this path. He has his tasks and I have mine. His is to be a soldier, a commander watching out for his troops, and mine is to be a mother of a soldier, sharing moments of pride and worry and knowing that Elie and I are, as perhaps all human beings are, subject to the preferences and decisions of forces greater than ours. Whether man or God, chooses our paths, it is for us to adapt, to make the best and to find the best in all that we do. What will tomorrow bring for Elie…once again, we await tomorrow to find out.