Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Innocence that Is Still Theirs

Tomorrow, my youngest son graduates from high school. Davidi is 18 and a half years old. I have to start calling him David and not least I have to try.

Next year, he will go to learn in a Hesder Academy for one year. In between learning Jewish laws and rituals, he will begin learning the laws of war, what the Jewish religion allows him to do, and what it does not. He will learn, though he already knows, that to save a life, you can break almost all of the laws of the Torah.

After next year, he'll spend two years in the army and then decide if he wants to do a third year in the army or one more year in Hesder. When he's finished, like his brothers, he will begin serving in the national reserves.

It's these last precious moments of youth for him. He's there on the edge of tomorrow, even if he doesn't really understand what that means yet. He and his friends decided to celebrate by having a barbecue tonight. They bought meat and drinks - it's all set up.

The only thing is, the dorm where they are right now, really. It smells from the smoke of a raging forest fire that is about one neighborhood away from where they are now. I asked him if he was coming home by SMS text.

He responded that they haven't been told to evacuate yet and that he could smell the fire from his dorm. He could see the planes flying low as they fought the fire as it edged towards Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust Memorial, which is less than 1/2 a mile from his dorm.

"The rail cars would be the first to burn," he explained to me. If they don't succeed in stopping the fires in time, the WWII-era rail cars used to carry Jews to the concentration camps would be lost. This has particular meaning to Davidi because it was only a few months ago that he visited Auschwitz and Treblinka, other camps, ghettos and Jewish cemeteries.

I was worried about him getting stuck there, unable to get out. How will you get out, I asked him. He told me the train had already been stopped in that area, but they could walk towards the center of Jerusalem. He wasn't worried.

I asked him again if he wanted to come home and he told me that they were having a barbecue.

"Jerusalem is on fire and you're having a barbecue?" I asked him.

"We already bought the meat," he answered.

There is something so simple, so 18ish about that answer. That's what I want for my children; that's what we all want. Sometimes the world overwhelms them...and us.

Davidi is very aware of the kidnapped boys, of what is happening. He knows that the fires he smells were set by arsonists, most likely Palestinians. This is an annual event. Hundreds of fires have been set, intentionally destroying beautiful forests. Davidi knows this. He is very aware of the news and what is happening. He serves regularly on the ambulance squad...he has seen people die and he has saved lives. He's only 18...I'm not sure I ever wanted this for my sons...

I don't begrudge Davidi this moment of freedom, this time when the biggest thing in his life is the barbecue he is now having with his friends. I don't think he is being insensitive. I think most of all, he is being 18 and I love that so much.

For many of us, it's hard to be ourselves right now. We are filled with worry and concern. Throughout the day, we listen, we check, we worry, we think.

Day 13 has hit me very hard. The longer it goes on, the worse it is. I have to believe that Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, whether together or separated, know that all of Israel is fighting for them. We are searching, we are trying to bring them home. Their mothers are being so strong, for them and for the rest of their families.

They flew to Geneva, spoke to the Israeli Knesset and untold numbers of media representatives. And with quiet dignity, they tell each one that all they want is for their sons to come home; to sleep in their own beds, to be hugged by their families. It should be the right of every child, they tell the world, to come home safely from school.

They are strong women fighting for the lives of their sons. They have empowered all of us with their strength.

A little while ago, I spoke to Davidi on the phone. The fires that were set to destroy are now under control. Davidi and his friends are enjoying the last night of high school. Somewhere, Eyal and Gilad and Naftali are settling down to another night in captivity.

Please God, let this be the last night. Please let them come and well.


5-2=3 Mom!! said...

so many divergent thoughts and concepts bought together so beautifully. thanks

Batya Medad said...

It seems like I compiled this Havel Havelim ages ago, but you should still know that this post is included.

Now that we know that the boys were murdered, we must comfort the families and friends.

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