Having a Son In Green on Yom HaZicharon

Having a Son In Green on Yom HaZicharon

 Every year I attend the Yom HaZicharon tekes at our Yad L’Banim in Ra’anana.  18 years of standing (I don’t think that I ever got there early enough to find a seat) in a crowd that boasted more/less 10,000 people from all walks of life, most wearing white shirts and blue trousers or skirts, standing at attention with bowed heads when the siren goes off at exactly 8:00 PM.  I always listen to the speeches with intrigue, sorrow and I try to relate to someone I never even knew.

Just over a month ago, our son #3, Motti, join the Kfir brigaides in the Duchifat unit. He’s in training, a tiran, they call him.  Penina and I really haven’t gotten used to it yet.  Although he’s our #3, he’s our first son in the IDF as his older brothers had medical exemptions.  So, suffice it to say, we are very new to this. The terminologies (most of the IDF jargon is in abbreviations) what to expect, etc.  We’re learning day by day.  The fact that he has to answer to the IDF and not us right now does not sit well with either of us. On the other hand, our insides still tingle when we see him in an IDF uniform. The day he returned home from his first day on base, Penina and I were waiting outside our home, phones on “camera mode”, giggling like two grade school kids at Disney World in a huge candy shop. I don’t care how biased and corny I sound.  He looks awesome and gorgeous.

However, being that today is Yom HaZicharon, this reality takes on a different character.  My son is in an intense combat unit. Although he is in training, less than a year from now, after his “tekes kumta” (beret ceremony), he will be on active duty, and that’s when I’ll be upping my blood pressure medications dosage.  He’s a strong and talented boy, GD bless him.  Believe me, they won’t have him sitting by a computer analyzing maps or translating from Arabic into Hebrew.  My pride and my fears are in a wrestling match, and I cannot help but wonder and at the same time, I want to smack myself for wondering. Yes, the ever-haunting “what if ?” question lurks in the background from time to time, like today for instance.

At the end of the day, the pride I feel for my son is wholesome and great. My insides tingle and I smile to myself when I see the kids that he and his brothers grew up with in uniform, representing a side of the Jewish people that one never sees anyplace else.  To paraphrase Arthur Miller, they’re all our sons.  They’re all our daughters.  And thank GD almighty, my beautiful son is amongst them, may he serve valiently.

May GD protect and safeguard all of our precious, beloved and holy chayalim.


  1. I ‘get it’, Rashi – my eldest is going in to the army this coming summer and I found the Yom Ha’Zikaron ceremony extra poignant this year – he was sitting (I DO get there early enough to get a chair!) between me and Yaf, I had my arm around him, over his shoulders, Yaf did, too, and we, Yaf and I, held hands behind his back – I had tears running down my cheeks, I’m sure Yaf did, too, but neither of us wanted Ziv to know – we can only imagine what was going through his mind and we have to be strong for him. He’s a tough, committed, focused, driven boy but that’s just the thing, he is still a boy and he’s about the enter a world of men!

    He, as kids in Israel have to, is growing up quickly, he is mature but Yaf and I still see the child in him, it’s getting fainter and I guess it’s the approach of his army service which is pushing the child in him further into the past.

    I’m not saying it’s easy for any parents but I didn’t grow up in Israel. When we made Aliyah, Ziv was almost 14 – he was, until then, brought up in a pleasant, leafy suburb in the North of England in which the last thing on parents or children’s minds is the army (unless they are army families and/or their kids want to serve). Where we are in our lives now was not on the agenda when Ziv was born (although, Yaf being an Israeli in England, as she was, we always thought that, one day, we would be here – and worried though she is about Ziv, I must add that she really enjoyed her army service).

    I’m proud of Ziv’s courage and his sense of duty and responsibility but I find myself carrying a strong sense of guilt – guilt that I have put him in this dangerous position. As parents, we are supposed to do everything we can to keep our kids safe and out of harm’s way but, by making Aliyah, I have, in a way, done the opposite.

    If he comes through it unscathed, odds are that he’ll be a better man for it, that it will have given him a sense of self-confidence and ‘can do’, that his appreciation of the importance of team work and loyalty/community will be enhanced (he has a strong sense of it already) but it’s the ‘if’ which stands between now and the time when he finishes his service, that ‘if’ which is going to keep me – all of the family – on shpilkies for the duration.

    I wish Motti well…

    Shabbat shalom

  2. Tirtza

    You put expertly into words what I feel as the proud mother of two chayalim bodedim.

    Hashem should continue watching and protecting it chayalim and chayalot!

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