On Fridays I usually don’t look at my phone much.
So, when my soldier called about an hour before Shabbat, I was thrilled to talk to him about mundane things. He was staying on base for Shabbat, as planned the week before, and I had a normal conversation with him, asking about his week.
Towards the end of our call, I mentioned that the family was trying to find somewhere to go for a few days at the end of the week and it would be amazing if he could join us. Both my husband and second oldest son, who were in the house and listening to my call, looked at me like I was insane. My soldier, always the diplomat, said, “Mommy. Maybe you haven’t seen the news in the last hour or so?”
And my stomach dropped. Not again, I thought. Is there literally never rest for the weary?
When I got off the call and was about to turn to the news, I realized that I had a number of whatsapp messages. These are the messages that I get when Israel goes to war. The “hang in there Romi” and “I’m thinking of you” and “Did your son just get called back too” messages. I love, and hate, these messages. Because while I was obliviously preparing for Shabbat and thinking that life was stable for a few minutes, my tiny, beautiful country was going to war, again.
And they were taking my son along with them.
Living here during these times means:
That you get these messages wishing you well and telling you they are thinking about your baby.
That you spend your nights watching the rockets light up the sky, watching them come flying in from the South and watching the Iron Dome over and over and over again knocking them off their civilian targets.
That you realize, again, that your first son is part of this, that you may not hear from him as frequently and that you certainly won’t know where he is in the coming week.
That you spend Tisha Ba’av – the saddest day on the Jewish calendar – mourning not only for the thousands of years of Jewish grief and destruction – but for the seemingly never-ending present need for our tiny country to defend itself.
I’m so proud of our country, and of our soldiers. For the last week hundreds of thousands of people have been paralyzed in their homes in the South, unable to function with the threat from Gaza hanging over their heads. We will not continue to be held hostage by the threat of terror and we will not live our lives under its shadow.
But pride and fear can be experienced at the same time. And as the mother of a soldier, I hold both next to my heart when these situations arise.
And I pray for swift victory and the ability for all of our citizens to go back to the regular lives that we so, so deeply crave here in the Holy Land.