Before Purim, my ten year old told me that they had a project to do at school. The school put together care packages to deliver to soldiers on their bases before Purim, and his class was in charge of writing notes to accompany the packages. Eliav wrote his note to his soldier with his full name and email in case the soldier wanted to get in touch.
That was the end of the story.
Until it wasn’t.
I thought it was a very sweet activity. And as kids do around the world, our children were saying thank you to soldiers for all that they do.
Eliav didn’t hear from the soldier, but he didn’t really expect to.
Then, right before Shabbat, our neighbor and close friend’s son, Zvi, showed up at the door with his wife. “We have a message for Eliav,” they said, and he hand delivered a note from a soldier.
“What??” we all said in unison. “What’s going on? How could this be?”
Turns out that Eliav got assigned to a soldier whose family lives in Efrat (the next town over) and that the soldier is friends with Zvi. He was with Zvi recently and said, “You know I got this adorable note from someone in Neve Daniel. Do you happen to know Eliav Sussman?”
Zvi proceeded to laugh, and to explain that our families have been friends for almost 20 years and that we are neighbors.
The soldier wrote the sweetest note to Eliav, explaining how the army is often hard and it’s difficult to keep your focus on what’s important; he said that with Eliav’s note it reminded him that he’s working hard to protect kids like Eliav and to work for our nation.
Kids around the world send packages and notes to soldiers. Sometimes the soldiers write back and sometimes the kids never hear from them.
When we deliver food to the Pinat Chama (the Warm Corner for soldiers) near our home, I see the notes that kids from other countries send to the soldiers. The notes are so sweet, but there is a certain feeling of disconnect, of thanking the soldiers for what they do there, in another country.
It’s so indicative of our lives here in Israel that Eliav should get a hand-delivered note in a situation of this sort. There are simply no degrees of separation here, and when a little fifth grader writes a note to that nameless, faceless big soldier, it just might be that the soldier lives nearby and is friends with a family down the street.
Thank you, sweet soldier, for your service, for taking the time to write back to and inspire a 5th grade boy down the street, and for all you do for our nation.