I would like to fill you all in on the last 36 hours.
Please note, to protect our son’s identity who is in the special forces in the IDF and for security reasons, I am not giving his name and not giving the exact location of us or him.
We came from Australia to visit our son who is a lone soldier in IDF. This means he has volunteered to serve Israel and protect the Jewish people. I have been asked by many people, what possessed a young man from the land of “no worries” to do that?
I asked him that question and he said he went to Poland and stood in Auschwitz and thought how could he ensure that this would not happen to the Jewish people again. Serving in the IDF was his answer.
He was raised in a Modern Orthodox, Zionistic home and we supported him.
He phoned us in December 2022 to tell us he has been selected for an elite unit.
We came to visit our lone soldier and we’re staying in Israel an extra week to attend a wedding. He was let out of the army to see us for the weekend. We planned on spending Shabbat and Simchat Torah with him at our friends who live half an hour out of Jerusalem. We had an unbelievable time on Friday night, October 6 in synagogue, singing and dancing to celebrate the completion of the reading of the Torah. It was special. 500 people enjoying themselves without a single bit of alcohol, expressing their love for the Torah and the land of Israel. It was a unique experience. We ate a delicious meal with our friends, enjoyed meaningful conversation and lots of laughs. We went to sleep to be woken up early on Saturday morning by our host banging on our bedroom door shouting to us and his family, “This is real, run into the bomb shelter. Faster, we have 60 seconds left …. 30 seconds .. door shut.” Parents, children and grandchildren who are visiting from the UK were all sitting in the safe room around the radio.
Which city was I in, whose house and where was I … perhaps this was a dream.
Now that is the background, a situation tragically all too familiar for Israelis. We spent the legal 10 minutes in the shelter and left.
I would like to explain the next step. Our son said he needs to turn on his phone to see what his commander is saying.
He shouts very calmly, “I have been called to base. We need to leave now.” The hostess frantically starts to make sandwiches when another red alert is sounded. Less that ten minutes later we are on the road.
Roads were empty mainly because it was the Shabbat and Yom Tov. There were emergency vehicles on the road at which stage our son said a text had come through from his commander. There are terrorists, dozens, armed that have infiltrated the Gaza border. “Lock the car doors,” he stated sternly.
When we got to the security checkpoint, all parents taking soldiers to base and emergency vehicles were sent to the left queue and we went straight through. We were through within seconds and driving onto the next part of the highway into Jerusalem. The scene was as follows: Off duty soldiers who had their guns, were sitting in the back seat with the window slightly open and guns pointing outwards. The parents including us were driving very fast, treating red traffic lights as stop streets. It was clear by the amount of sirens and look on Israeli parents’ faces that Israel was at WAR.
We had to race to central Israel to the family where he leaves his belongings to get his clothes and possessions. He got dressed in 30 seconds into his uniform while I grabbed more food and my husband turned the car around so we were facing in the right direction. Army like precision from a family on “holiday”.
This particular family hosts him on weekends off as he is a lone soldier. It is amazing work and we are eternally grateful. At this stage his “host father” had received a message that our son has been called back. His own son had not been called up yet.
Driving from central Israel to his army base, his Commander phoned many times. How far are you? “We are waiting” was the one call, “we can’t wait” was the next call, next call was “we will wait 5 minutes you need to be with our unit”, all while my husband drove in a foreign country, on a different side of the road with purpose. I was saying the “Prayer for Israel and soldiers” many times, while my husband and son said “amen” loudly in unison.
When we got to the base I witnessed a scene similar to what my grandparents had told us from when they were visiting Israel and the Yom Kippur war broke out. This was 50 years later and one day, the difference being this time it was on Simchat Torah and our child was heading to Gaza.
Open Jeeps were leaving the base with soldiers in full army gear with guns loaded. Parents were dropping their children off. Emotional goodbyes, terrified parents and angry and petrified soldiers.
We have come to stay with old school friends who have opened their hearts and homes to us. They have a son in the army and one who has completed his service but has been called up. We have spent the last 24 hours glued to the TV, waiting for our sons to make contact while throwing questions, concerns and emotions out that we have no answers for. We have not slept and have cried a lot, so please excuse any grammatical and spelling errors.
How could this happen?
I am not a politician or an academic so cannot answer this but I am hoping and praying that Israel can eradicate this evil, fight this horrific antisemitism without pandering to the world that feels that the Palestinians are the victims. When Gaza was given to the Palestinians they were going to turn it into the “Singapore of the Middle East”. It has become a terror infested land where they have no regard for even the life of their own flesh and blood. It’s horrific. Even animals protect their young.
Hijacking airlines, destroying Pesach seders, taking youth at a party in a field. It’s the same book, just a different page. What I do know is the Jews are and have always been the victims. The groom for the wedding we are attending next week was shot in the leg yesterday and his bride’s family kibbutz was taken under terrorist control. The idea that some Arabs and terrorists can do what they want has to change.
The Israeli people have rallied like they always do. Blood donations, food, clothes and kindness are in abundance.
I have been asked what can be done from the diaspora. In my opinion, show support for Israel, if it’s at a rally, online or in conversation.
Please pray, that is what can be done, whether it’s in your own way or formal prayers. Pray for the families and friends who have lost loved ones, pray for those who have been taken hostage and pray for the soldiers and residents and Jewish people throughout the world.
Pray that evil is eradicated. Just please do lots of it !
Am Yisrael Chai!
The author of this piece is known by The AJN.