Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

Archive for the ‘IDF’ Category

Warming a Soldier’s Soul

Posted by rutimizrachi on 30/03/2009

Yom sheni, 5 Nisan 5769.

Sometimes I don’t even have to do any work to get across an idea that is important to me.  This happens a lot lately, when I let Soldier Boy visit this space, and do my talking for me.

Please drop by his blog at Through Josh-Colored Glasses, and read his latest thank-you note to a wonderful organization, to the people working on coordinating its efforts with the IDF, and to you.

Photos taken on a recent lovely outing shared by father & son.

Posted in IDF, One Israel Fund, shluker, Through Josh-Colored Glasses | 6 Comments »

Post-Gaza: A New Immigrant Mom’s Perspective

Posted by rutimizrachi on 21/01/2009

Yom revi’i, 25 Tevet 5769.

We made aliyah only a little more than a year ago.  And tomorrow our son comes home from his first war.

As my husband and I had served in the US military, we came to our decision with open eyes:  Israel has been a nation at war for as long as we have been alive.  While it is our opinion that there is no better place on the planet for a Jew to live, there is no sugar-coating the fact that all of our sons would probably wear IDF uniforms, and would probably experience the trauma of war.  Part of why we took so long to make aliyah (16 years) was dealing with this reality.

Did we have the right to put our kids into the apparent path of danger, simply to enhance our concept of a higher attachment to Torah?

We wrangled with this question through the First Intifada, through the Oslo War, through bus and cafe bombings, through the contempt of a “civilized” world that still smugly pontificates that “both sides must renounce the violence.”  We discussed the tragic decision to use soldiers as policemen during the awful and stupid “Disengagement” which laid the groundwork for this current Gaza War.  If we as soldiers had been asked to choose between our mission to protect and defend our citizens, and our responsibility to respect and obey the government we represented — what would we do?  More relevantly, what would our sons do?

It finally became clear that whatever tafkid (purpose, mission) we may have had in America was pretty well used up.  One day, as we listened to yet another ambulance shriek its way to the retirement home across the street, my husband said to me, “Ruti, I can’t just wait for my ambulance to come.  I have a little more adventure in me.”

Baruch Hashem, our sons had come to the decision that Israel is our true Home, even before we made the final decision.  So we did the move together — not just physically, but as “one man with one heart.”  One son even made the move a couple of years before the family — the “point man” of the operation, as we say in the Army.

When he went to war with the Golani Brigade, we and his wife glued ourselves firmly in front of our computers and radios.  We attended closely to each news story.  Wanting to know everything.   

Not wanting to know… 

In the evenings, the men in my house watched war movies.  I listened to old time radio.  Comedies mostly.  That is how we coped between phone calls.  During the day, I blogged, and read the blogs of others, most notably The Muqata (for a reliable play-by-play of the unfolding war) and A Soldier’s Mother (for damn fine writing about what I was feeling).  I didn’t write too much of what I felt, because it didn’t seem to be what my blog is about, and because my military training told me that staying positive through the mission is more useful than being scared.

Of course I was scared.

I have been worrying about that kid keeping his limbs attached to his body since before he was born.  It’s not like I was going to stop when people were firing projectiles at him, trying to hit him.  I worried about what would happen to his body if they got him.  I worried about what would happen to his spirit if he got one of them.  I felt his pain when he missed his wife desperately.  I felt his fear, even though he would not voice it.

He would call when he was “back from the office,” our code for when he was at the base just outside of Gaza.  We had lovely talks sometimes, philosophical grappling with the situation’s politics.  He couldn’t tell me much; and I didn’t ask.  We honored the rules.  “No civilian phone line is secure.”  Mostly, we just updated each other briefly.  I gave him news he was seeking; he just gave me his voice.

Every so often, we would get “the call.”

“Ema, I love you very much.  I really love you.”  He would say the words slowly and carefully, as if asking me to pay. close. attention.  This call was code for “I’m going back in; and I am terrified I won’t ever speak to you again.”  And my military/mom response was very cheerful, because that is my job:  “You are one of my heroes, Josh.  Your abba and I are so very proud of you.  You have been well-trained.  You know your job, and you are good at it.  Think about what is in front of you, and the guys on either side of you.  Remember For Whom you work.  That’s all.  I love you very, very much.”  This was the verbal form of polishing his shield and sword.  It was all I could do.

When I cried, after I hung up the phone, one of his younger brothers would come and hold me for a few minutes.

What do you say to your soldier son when he calls to fall apart over the devastating injuries sustained by a friend?  How do you comfort him when he shares his fear, his guilt, his empathy?

You cry with him.  You let him pour it all out.  And then you listen and silently applaud as he pulls himself together, as he sees visiting his friend and attempting to strengthen him as his next mission.  As he comes out of his pain, and comes back to life.  You know that his friend will probably end up comforting and strengthening him, as is so often the case in tragedy.  But you know that he will grow from this, as we are bidden to grow from the good and the terrible that Hashem puts in our path.

When the “cease fire” was initially announced, I was torn exactly in half.  I felt joy for my child, who would sleep in a real bed, inside of the first building that he had been in for three weeks.  I felt happiness for my daughter-in-law and for us.  But I was also disappointed, yet again, as our government ended another mission before it was completed.

Josh cornered the market on wisdom this time.  “Remember, Ema, that a Torah Jew knows that we can’t solve this.  Not with politics, and not with fighting.  We soldiers are only doing a ‘holding action,’ until Moshiach will come and fix it.”

We have all survived the first test of our commitment to this country.  How did this affect our younger sons?  One wants to come to Israel from the States.  “It’s time, Ema.  I can’t stay away any longer.”  One keeps checking the calendar, to see if he is old enough to go into the IDF.  Like his big brother.  The little one just keeps playing football, wearing his Gush Katif kipah, and listening.

Please G-d, help us to stay strong and positive, as we await Your intervention.  Please help us to never forget that You run this whole show — and that it will be all right in the end.  You have made certain promises to Your people; and You never lie.

Oh, yeah…  and please let our children grow to be really, really old men, intact and healthy, with great stories to tell their grandchildren.  Amen.

Posted in aliyah, Gaza War, Golani, IDF | 11 Comments »

"Daddy, what did Mommy do while you were fighting the war?"

Posted by rutimizrachi on 07/01/2009

Yom chamishi, 12 Tevet 5769.

Today I offer you a special treat.  My friend and neighbor, Marc Gottlieb, did the liveblogging (which he updated regularly throughout the day) for the recent Standing Together mission to “500 meters from Gaza.”  My intrepid daughter-in-law, Chana, went along.  (Hey!  Don’t ask.  She’s a grown up!  What can I say?)  With Marc’s permission, I am posting their adventure here, so that you can sit on the edge of your seat, like I did all day Tuesday.  Don’t thank me.  Love is sharing.  

Liveblogging Gaza Mission #3

Stay tuned as we provide updates to the Standing Together 1/6/09 Mission to Gaza.

Meet our Guest Hosts 
Rami Landau is David’s son. Besides the enjoyment he gets from helping out the soldiers, he’s taking video and photographs of the mission. 

Chana Eastman was married in July 2008. Her husband Josh is serving in the Golani brigade. He hasn’t been home in weeks. She’s hoping that they can find where his unit is stationed, and that he’s been rotated out of the action for today. Hey, it could happen…  

Anthony Harris, originally from Scotland, grew up in Perth, Australia, and is now living in the Zayit in Efrat. Anthony, who made aliyah too late to serve, is on the mission today because, “In 2006 I had many friends from work who went up to serve in the war. I couldn’t help out last time, but now nothing could keep me away!” 

Dan Leubitz just couldn’t stay away. Dan joined Standing Together on their Second Mission to Gaza on New Year’s Day 2009. Dan was born in Cleveland, Ohio and made aliyah in September 2006 from Teaneck, NJ. The last mission was so emotional he had to come back for more.

Brendan Rothschild, from Melbourne, Australia hasn’t made aliyah just yet. He served in the Nachal brigade until 8 months ago when he finished his service. He plans on making aliyah when he completes his degree. About a year ago, Standing Together came to visit him on the base during Chanukah, and he’s glad he has the opportunity to lend a hand today.

Wendy Gordon, an MSW originally from Boca Raton, Florida, now living in Beer Sheva, joined Standing Together because she felt a strong need to help directly, hands on, with the soldiers who are protecting our country. “It’s amazing how thankful they are, when it’s us who should be thanking them.”

Left for the South this morning with a car full of 500 packages including fleece masks, thermals and socks. Heading to Sderot to pick up food and personal items in the grocery.

Still haven’t been able to get to a location with decent reception. Going to try again in a bit.

In the makolet, stocking up on supplies to bring south.
Chana: Im just trying to help where I can. My husband’s doing his part, so I’m doing mine.
Heard a Qassam in the distance (11:45)

As we’re leaving Sderot on the way to Nachal Oz, we heard the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) alert. We didn’t hear anything, but we quickly pulled over to a reinforced bus shelter. Three seconds later we heard a loud explosion. For some on the mission it was their first experience in a rocket alert.

12:39 PM
Another Tzeva Adom alert. That’s two in five minutes. How do people live like this every day of their lives?

Stopped at an artillery staging area in the middle of nowhere. We came with food and clothes, and they were most appreciative of the clothes because it’s freezing down here.

2:30 PM
Followed the smoke about a kilometer and a half to an insertion point. They’ve been there three days straight without a change of clothes. They constantly repeat thank you. Handing out bottles of water. We changed the mood from stressed to festive, we broke the monotony of waiting. We’re taking pictures of them, they’re taking pictures of us!

Wendy: I can’t get over the range of ages of the soldiers! Young, old, and they’re all here fighting for Israel’s very right to exist. I wish there was more I could do.

At a camp now, handing out hundreds of packages of cold weather clothing to soldiers.

Soldiers are hanging around the trailer like a little cafe, very funny. Soldiers from all walks of Israeli life. They talk about where they’re from. They’re overwhelmed by individual letters, and the thousands of people from the Facebook group who showed their support and love. Two officers approached us and thanked us, just thanked us.  

Anthony: Every soldier says to me “Ein milim” — there are no words. I never knew I could bring this much pleasure by just coming to visit them, just to support them.

David: Last cold weather package handed out. 500 soldiers are sleeping warmer tonight, in clean clothes. Thousands more aren’t. Need help for more!

We’re starting mincha (evening prayers) with the soldiers. The religious soldiers and the volunteers prayed together between two tanks for safety. The sky is dark gray, filled with shadows. It really moves you to see that in the midst of it all, they stop to pray.

We’re 500 meters from Gaza right now, within sniper range. We’ve been handing out everything that we have to the soldiers who have just returned from inside Gaza. It was such an uplifting feeling to see them come back safely. Many are just young men who are experiencing combat for the first time. They appreciate what we’re doing even though it’s so little.

Wendy: We need more boxer shorts!  🙂 

Wherever we’ve gone, the soldiers are polite, and it’s really a pleasure to mingle and chat with them.
We’re getting ready to go home. We need to leave a little earlier than planned, before it gets too dark to see how to get back.

Chana shared another vignette after she returned safely to my house.  She said that one of the young soldiers sat down next to Wendy, the “mom person” on the trip.  He told her that he wanted people to understand how much Standing Together’s visit meant to the soldiers.  “We know that everyone in the world hates us, and thinks bad things about us.  We are risking our lives here; and we get discouraged when the media make us look like the bad guys, and when people believe them.  And then you people come here to see us, and you bring us food and presents; and we feel loved.  We feel like you understand why we are doing what we do.  Thank you so much!”

Photos used by permission from Marc Gottlieb and Abba Richman

Posted in Gaza War, Golani, IDF, Standing Together | 4 Comments »

When a boy grows up…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 04/01/2009

Yom rishon, 8 Tevet 5769.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.” — John Stuart Mill
You’ll forgive me if, for a short while, my thoughts and prayers are on one young soldier, his wife and baby-to-be (b’sha’ah tovah), and his comrades-in-arms.
May they be safe, successful, and victorious, in all their efforts on behalf of this holy People.
For excellent coverage of the Gaza War, the likes of which you won’t find on CNN et al, please check out the efforts of my fellow bloggers, the writings of whom have been painstakingly gathered by Jack.  They do a much better job than I can of reporting what is really happening over here, as well as including the best and the worst of the MSM.  Some of my especial favorites are Jameel at the Muqata for reportage, A Soldier’s Mother for a mom’s perspective, Seraphic Secret for Old Country passion, and Treppenwitz for everything else, to include inspiring all of the rest of us.
Thank you to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldberger and the kehilla back in Baltimore for your prayers, phone calls, and inspiration.  It is your concern that adds the spiritual fuel to the tanks and fire to the weapons.  
May we hear b’sorot tovot. 

Posted in Gaza War, IDF | 7 Comments »

Short Mantra for Parents of Soldiers, and Others Who Love Them

Posted by rutimizrachi on 01/01/2009

Yom chamishi, 5 Tevet 5769.


May Hashem bless our soldiers with safety, strength, wisdom in battle, loyalty to each other, and success.  May they have many mitzvot that Hashem requires of them, which they can only fulfill as healthy old men.

Posted in IDF, prayer | 13 Comments »

Free for Soldiers

Posted by rutimizrachi on 14/11/2008

Yom shishi, 16 Cheshvan 5769.

I love living in a country that treats its soldiers this way.

Just seeing the sign makes me smile.

(The sign offers free internet surfing to the soldiers at the internet cafe in the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.)

They don’t seem to mind it, either.

Shabbat shalom u’mevorach!

Posted in IDF, Jerusalem, soldiers | 2 Comments »

Golani, Golani Sheli…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 23/09/2008

Yom shlishi, 23 Elul 5768.

Recently, Soldier Boy brought home a special gift to his dear father, a former US soldier.  He knew his abba would appreciate a hat with the insignia of Soldier Boy’s infantry brigade.

His father wears it proudly, nearly everywhere we go.

While no one actually asks for his autograph, driving in a darkened, chauffeur-driven car with diplomatic plates would not get him any better treatment.

Young men all over Israel smile at my husband, murmur “Golani,” and shake his hand.  He is quick to say that it is his son who is in Golani; but I don’t think it matters.  It may not qualify as protexia, or get us special discounts. 

But folks treat us right nice.

Posted in esprit d'corps, Golani, IDF | 6 Comments »

A Thank You, To Elie’s Mom.

Posted by rutimizrachi on 01/09/2008

Yom sheni, 1 Elul 5768, Rosh Chodesh Beit/1 September 2008, Monday.

[This post is a response to A Soldier’s Mother: Ima, I’m in the Middle of Nowhere.

Dearest Paula,

Nu, so now that you’re a “vet,” do you get benefits? 🙂

Thank you so much for at least two things. As a former soldier, I so appreciate the decent way you speak about the goals and training of the army, and its goal to “build the man.” At the end of the day, they are, of course, invested in building a piece of the whole, the “equipment” made of men who can work as one machine when that is needed, and as separate units, when that is needed. It doesn’t always feel that way to the raw recruit, as the layers of his civilian self are (temporarily) stripped away. But like the great scene from the movie “Karate Kid,” once he survives “wax on/wax off” enough times, he sees the value of that seemingly pointless training. When it counts. When he sees himself functioning as a real soldier in the field. When it saves his life, or someone else’s.

As the mother of a soldier, I am grateful to you, who are farther down the path than I. Thank you for shining a light, so that I can see my way, and the way of my dear son. Your coherent and calm words take away a lot of the worry and fear normal for the mother of any soldier in Israel. And thank you for declaring publicly what I have seen for myself. The IDF bends over backward for her soldiers more than I ever remember being done for the US soldier. Many times my dear son, newly-married, has had privileges allowed him for the sake of his marriage, that the US Army would never have allowed a fellow in Basic Training. (I can just hear the Yewnited States Army now, in the booming voice of Master Sergeant Flood: “Son, if the Army woulda wanted yew to have a wahf, we-wudda-issued-yew-one!”) I am proud of my time, serving the Old Country. But I am glad we made it here, in time for my dear sons to decide how they wanted to serve this one. Like the rest of this amazing country — with all her faults — the IDF is very family-oriented. Something nearly unheard-of, at this level certainly, anywhere else in the world.

I just want you to know how much I appreciate you, and Elie, and all of our children, who decide that it is holy to protect this Land and this People.

Warmest regards, and Hashem’s protection for all of them,


P.S. American Jew, come home. G-d forbid you or your son should fight in any war. But I would rather my boys put on a uniform here, and learned to fight to protect Our Home, than to see them go off to “do their duty” to fight for something more obscure.

Posted in A Soldier's Mom, IDF, soldier | Leave a Comment »