Sunday, February 7, 2010

When Your Stomach Meets Your Toes

Didn't know that could happen did you? can, it did (again). Shmulik received a letter today in the mail. It looked important and was expected. I opened it for him...Excuse my translation, but this is the best I can do....

Subject: Invitation to be drafted:
Here is your invitation to the March, 2010 draft, which begins your active service (date)(time). On this day you will go through induction and begin your active service. You are required to bring (list of stuff) and personal equipment for two weeks.

Make sure you come on time. A soldier who does not arrive at this location on this day will stand judgment. (place)(directions).
And there went my stomach. Yup, I'd been so sure it wouldn't happen this time. I have no excuse. I've been through this. I know this path. My son will be a soldier in the army of Israel - this time it will be the Kfir Division. Want to lose the rest of your stomach? Here's what the IDF site says about Kfir:

The Kfir Brigade, under the command of the Plada Formation in the Central Command, is the largest brigade in the Israel Defense Forces. The unit was officially formed in February 2005 out of a collection of battalions – Nachshon, Shimshon, Haruv, Duchifat, Lavi, and Netzah Yehuda – into a full brigade. The Brigade specializes in anti-terror fighting and combats in urban areas, its soldiers are willing to volunteer to stand at the forefront of a determined fight against terrorism. The brigade's battalions are deployed in Palestinian towns stretching from Hebron in the south to Tulkarem in the north, sharing the burden of intense fighting. The brigade carries out challenging, complex operations demanding the soldiers demonstrate a level of expertise, steadfastness, initiative, and determination on a daily basis.
Now this sounds all well and good until it's your son. The brigade specializes in anti-terror fighting and combats (yes, I'd like to volunteer to fix their English) in urban areas...I don't want my son doing this. I know someone has to, but I was thinking along the lines of his being a life guard, a school crossing, or maybe a ski instructor. Okay, so he doesn't know how to ski, but he could learn.

its soldiers are willing to volunteer to stand at the forefront of a determined fight against terrorism. Well, see, he might be willing, but really, I'm not. I don't want him standing at the forefront. I mean, it isn't like he stood at the forefront at school...he was okay, good even, but not the forefront. Besides, I'm an artillery mother - we support the troops...kilometers behind he line...Yes, I'm all for a determined fight against terrorism but I wasn't really thinking of putting my baby there. I know he isn't a baby; I know someone has to be there; I know he will be there and so, I've decided to act like a baby here. And I demand my 30 seconds of panic before I get back to being mature.

The brigade's battalions are deployed in Palestinian towns. I've been through this...I don't like when they are deployed in Palestinian towns...can't we convince the Palestinians to just stop these rockets and shooting attacks...please? Really, very little good happens to Israeli soldiers in Palestinian town...given their current leadership and culture of violence and death-worship, I'm not sure anything good for Palestinians happens in Palestinians, really - he could skip this line, as far as I am concerned.

Never mind. I'll go back and read my blog from the beginning. I'll learn to take it one day at a time. I'll be grateful for this day and for the one that comes after. I'll learn again how to trust the army to train him correctly. Artillery had its moments...I just have to trust that I can handle Kfir's moments too.

One more thing - a Kfir is a lion cub and the lion is a symbol of Judah. Judah was the fourth son of our forefather Jacob. When Jacob lay dying, he blessed Judah with the following prayer,

You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise;

Your hand shall be on the nape of your foes;
Your father's sons shall bow low to you.

Judah is a lion's whelp;
On prey, my son, have you grown.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
Like the king of beasts — who dare rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet;
So that tribute shall come to him
nd the homage of peoples be his.
This is the blessing that Judah received from his father. It speaks of strength and vigilance, of the power of leadership and the tribute he will receive. Kfir it will be - my son who has always loved animals...will join the young lions who defend this land.


Tehillah said...

Wow. I just read this to my husband with the emotion and tears I suspect you shed before and after writing it. My husband's response, "well dear, you've got 9 years to prepare for our son to be called up, use it to learn how to cope." Such a compassionate man, my husband.

I feel proud of Shmulik for rising to this challenge as if he were my own son. Your family is very dear to us and I will be praying for his safety and success, and for your sanity. And I will be shedding tears along with you as I read your latest report.

If for nothing else, Hash-m has brought us all to this land to strengthen our emunah.

My heart and prayers are with you, and I'm only a phone call away if you need to talk.

Shalom v'Ahavah,

MommaMindy said...

I am so very sorry you have to go through this - again. I can only compilation of all the Israeli mothers of soldiers.

Am, I am so very sorry you have to defend what is yours, and that so few people understand.

Thank you for sharing your pain. It helps many of us understand more fully what is going on overseas. Blessings to you and your family.

rickismom said...

Oh, boy can I understand this! My soldier-son, home for a few hours, was helping his younger brother fill out his "request for unit to serve" questionaire.
-"Don't go there, that is full of rough-necks. And don't even give a 1 there, as NOBODY wants it, and if you give a one, they will gladly stick you there. Do...."
This younger son is detirmined to go into whatever is the most combative unit possible, so that he won't be "bored". As I commented to soldier-son afterwards, "Doesn't he realize what he will be doing to me?" Sometimes I wonder if he is brave, or simply fool-hardy. Has the "modern warfare" game given him a feeling that he can just get up and do and go on, in the face of danger?????

Barbara, Kfir Mom said...

My son just finished his combat service in Kfir. He was in the Nachshon brigade (Be First Nachshon! from the Exodus is their motto - I know you don't want to hear that!!) He was happy to get into his first choice and it was a good experience. A lot of soldiers in the other battalions train and train and never get to use their training, but in Kfir, you use it! (I know, I know, more sleepless nights, but Shmulik will like that.)

My son had tremendous respect for all his commanders and officers from basic training on. They were fair and caring and pushed them to be their best. They took special care to help the other soldiers understand the issues facing a lone soldier, which I very much appreciated.

And Shmulik will probably always be stationed close to home. I'm pretty sure the IDF pulled out of Tulkarem last year, at least my son thought he would be there all the time and he never was, he was mostly in the Hebron area and south of it.

Congratulations, Shmulik!

Welcome to the Kfir Moms Club, Paula! We need our own motto. And a t-shirt!

Nathalie Klein said...

Having been through the same situation, I can perfectly understand the moments of doubts. Do I want my son to be the person he will be once he enlists into whatever elite unit?
I certainly never wanted my son to be the perfect cold-hearted-destroying- machine-like person he became during his army service. No mother in her right mind wants that. On the other hand I always wanted him to know I trusted him 200 per cent he could do the job and the last thing I wanted was for him to worry about me and ending up lying to me about everything during his service. I wanted him to know I was happy for him, for his choice to volunteer where he was.

It's a difficult subject but I am personally aware of the permanent indoctrination and pressure we are, as mothers, subjected to, to be proud of our soldier sons. Warfare cannot function without ideology. However being aware of it doesn't mean I can't support my soldier son. In my view to have complete confidence in his capabilities to fight and thrive is primordial to his safety. And frankly, that's the only thing I care about.

George said...

Welcome to the Parents of Infantry Soldiers club. I'm sure that Shmulik will do a wonderful job and will make you just as proud of him as you are of Elie.

Lady-Light said...

I read your post, and I heard myself. Wherever they are sent, the work and defending has to be done. But not with our kids.

My daughter got her assignment for the next several months (actually I'm not sure for how long). She is commanding a patrol near a "Palestinian town," too--and has encounters with Arabs all the time.

My husband brags to others about it, but he quietly worries, too. I try not to think about it too much, so that I won't break out in a sweat.

May your son & my daughter--and all the brave chayalim defending Eretz Yisrael--be protected by Ribono shel Olam, and be safe...and may our enemies be vanquished, once and for all.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Thanks everyone - we learn to cope, we Israeli mothers...we really do and beyond that, we learn so much as we watch our sons learn; we develop so much with them too. All that I am learning now is that I have more to learn, more skills to's sort of like exercising different muscles in your body. I guess what this all means is that I'm about to go into a new exercise program...yeah, I'll keep telling myself that...I will...

Hannah said...

I can somewhat relate to your blog. My oldest son is also in the IDF. C (Kfir/Shimshon). However he is a "lone" soldier - we live in America. I don't know whether or not you've written about soldiers who have no close relatives living in the country, and the additional hardships they face- Not being able to return to their homes, and beds, and mothers cooking, and doing their laundry. So as you can well imagine it is scary as well as heartbreaking to think of my son fending for himself all the time. We also really don't know what he is doing- we know he will not tell us anything that he thinks will worry us- which is pretty much everything. (He is currently in/near? Hebron, so that alone....) He volunteered for machal, while still a teenager, and although not required by law, re-enlisted the following year after he made aliyah to complete his service. So as you can see, although he believes it is his responsibility, and therefore not a tremendous sacrifice, he really is a special young man.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Hannah,

Yes, I have often written about lone soldiers in a number of ways. My family has adopted two brothers - one finished his service in Givati and is currently in the States studying in college and hoping to return here as soon as possible after his studies. The second is about to go into the army, just as my second son goes in as well.

In many ways, it is much harder to be the mother of a lone soldier - for all the reasons you mention. There are things they cannot say on the phone; things they don't want to tell you when you are so far away and can only worry.

Yes, baking for them, doing their laundry, being a phone call and a drive away is so different and yes, so much easier than being a lone mother's soldier. Please tell your son if he ever needs a place for Shabbat...or anything, I'd seriously be very happy to give him a place (Pesach, Purim...Shabbat).

I can only tell you ... as my oldest comes out and my next one goes in...that they are so enriched by the experience - and rewarded by much love from people here. It doesn't replace a family's love and it never will...but I'm sure your son is among brothers and friends who love him.

If I can ever be of help, please contact me. I was able to help one lone soldier get warm winter clothes one time, and was honored to attend a ceremony with another lone soldier and his family another time.

Please don't ever feel alone there...when your son joined the many ways, so did you.


mamma-mia said...

Hannah - I too am a lone soldiers mother from America - I know what you are going through & to make matters worse (for me) our son is injured and has been spending his time in a military hospital for over three weeks.
Paula is a wonderful source of strength and inspiration for us...

It is almost as if she is inside my head, hearing my thoughts wandering around in my brain!

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Hannah,

I'd really like to help if I can. Please let me know if you or your son needs anything.


Please give J. my regards. I spoke to Elie and he agrees - we'd like to go visit him...perhaps one day next week? I think it would be nice for him and Elie to meet (they can complain about their mothers). Pls tell me if there is something I can bring him (magazines in English, books...what?) and email me off the blog with how I can get to him (room, phone, whatever). If you know a good time of day when he isn't in therapy or whatever, let me know that too - if possible, don't tell case we can't pull this together. Wait, next week, I just realized I can't. Elie is in reserve duty training, but early the following week - maybe Mon, he'll be available.

Anyway - for sure, please tell J. I said hi and hoping he's doing better.


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