Elie went to his engineering courses today, as he did yesterday and every day before he was called to Operation Pillar of Defense. Last week when he was near Gaza, there was a homework assignment he should have handed in and last week, students were given an assignment to hand in this week. He is now two assignments behind the rest of the class and they are learning now what they need to hand in next week.
The first thing the instructor did after the class gathered was to say, "To the miluimniks [Reserve soldiers], first, thank you."
I have to admit, for that alone, my eyes filled with tears as Elie continued. The two assignments he did not turn in - have been marked as if he did them, "I still recommend you do them," said the instructor, "but you already have credit for them." In addition, there are pages and pages of notes that need to be copied - the school is granting each soldier a budget of 50 NIS per day (enough to copy close to 150 pages of text per day) to compensate their having to copy notes from their friends.
They are still trying to find tutors to come in and help the Reserve soldiers but already the instructors themselves are moving in to make up for lost time by offering to re-teach classes for those students that missed it.
And finally, I asked Elie - how many soldiers are there in his class that missed last week? It is so much effort - that the school is making - so much time planning for how they will help these students catch up so that they don't suffer for having answered the call to serve their country. How many, I asked. And his answer, "Six or seven."
Six of seven...for these, a college shows its gratitude, offers special benefits, teachers offer their time, and all is done to help them.
For all, and for each of our soldiers - combat and support - the country is showing its love. From bus drivers who take that extra time, to teachers who thank them...this is my Israel.