Miluim means Reserves. When our sons finish their three years in the army, they leave the standing army of Israel, but remain soldiers. Each year, for up to a month, they are called into the National Reserves. It's an amazing concept - that you work at a company and up to a full month, you'll get paid your regular salary...but not be there. Your company will hire you, accepting, even taking pride in this fact.
For the first year after you leave the standing army, you are not called - unless there is a war. Everything is...unless there will be a war. So last March, Elie finished his mandatory service and entered the Reserves and I knew, I hoped, there would be a year of quiet...and there has been.
Elie received the call-up a few weeks ago and, as luck would have it, his miluim duty clashes horribly with a course and a test he is taking. If he goes to serve he will miss a huge number of lessons of a course that costs about $1,800 and will only be released a day or two before this test. And, if he passes on the course, he'll have to wait another full year before he can again do this preparatory course. All around, not good.
So, Elie drove to meet his new commanding officer and ask to be released from this round, to not have to waste a year of his life waiting after giving three years with pride and dedication. Elie thought the meeting would not last long - there would be others coming to make similar requests. He left our offices early, wanting to be the first in line. Hours later, he called me and told me he had just finished his meeting.
Once again, the army came through for my son in ways that were better than I could have imagined. I had hoped they would release him and reschedule his Reserve duty to some point in the future. Had they done that, he would have felt torn - knowing he should be with his unit in training, knowing he needed to also make concrete steps towards advancing his future goals. I was afraid they would tell him that he had to do the miluim and miss the course. Had they done that, Elie would have gone to be with his unit...and would have likely set his future back one year in many ways.
What they did, was so brilliant, so perfect. They made him feel needed. His new commanding officer told him that he really needed Elie to be at the training and then sat with him to figure out the critical days and times. The first few days, he told Elie and then on specific days when they would be in live fire exercises and needed Elie to help coordinate and command. Most of the three weeks Elie would still be able to attend his courses - a few hours here, perhaps a whole day there. Enough to make him remember how much his service was worth; not enough to damage his future.
The flip side of this is the realization that phase 2 with Elie now begins - he will spend, God willing, the next 17 years of his life serving. Leaving his job, his family, his life but somehow, there is a voice on the other side, a commanding officer who understands they must ask, but cannot ask too much. A balance - of service and sacrifice.
Serve your land, they told my son, but don't sacrifice to it. Help fulfill the dreams of Jews for the centuries by protecting your land, but don't lose your own dreams. It is moments like these, experiences like these, that make me wonder if there is another army anywhere in the world like mine. My army, my son, my land, my country. Mine. God, I thank you for the wisdom you have given our commanders, the dedication you have given my son.
Phase 2 - my son is a soldier of Israel and I remain a soldier's mother!