Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!

Yom shlishi, 2 Av 5773.

Idit and Ella: Golani sheli!
You know how when you're at home, you can get away with acting a little goofy, and people tolerate it?  Because they know you, and they love you, in spite of (or because of) your goofiness.  You can't get away with that stuff away from home.

So I'm walking around Jerusalem one day last week, and I see that it must be "Golani Soldier Day," because there are Golani soldiers everywhere.

Because Soldier Boy -- my eldest of four soldier sons -- was Golani, I can't help feeling a certain affection for all Golani soldiers.  They're all "my boys."  And as every Golani parent can affirm, whenever I see them, I want to sing a bar or two of their anthem to them.  "Golani sheli, Golani she-leeeeeee!"  There are rules in Judaism about men hearing the intoxicating sound of my amazing voice -- down, boys! -- so I can't do that.  Instead, I just think the song to myself, and send them a proud mother smile.

On this day, however, I had a special treat: two female Golani soldiers walked into a pet store.  Hah!  No rules of kol isha!  Overwhelmed by the goofiness instinct, I followed them in, and said, "Ah, at last, I can do something I always want to do... 'Golani, sheli...'" I sang to them.  And they joined in, and quietly we serenaded each other, followed appropriately by giggles.

We interviewed each other.  They wanted to know where I was from, now and before aliyah.  We spoke about my soldier sons.  I asked them why they chose to serve in Golani.  "Because it is how we felt we could best serve our country," said Ella, and Idit agreed.  Such a logical statement.  But they might have said, "Because we have to." or "Because we were drafted."  I don't meet too many young people in Israel with a negative attitude about their service.  Maybe about their base, or their commander...  but rarely about serving their country.  (They also informed me that Golani is superior to all other branches of the IDF.  First time I've ever heard that from a Golani soldier.  Not.)

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"The Brothers," as they and everyone else call my sons, have always worked at being close friends (when they weren't beating the pasta out of each other, of course.  We raise men here, not saints).

As Soldier Boy and his bride Executive Girl are temporarily detained in the States for an unspecified duration, the Brothers -- Yeshiva Bochur, Stunt Man and Sports Guy -- can sometimes be seen huddling over the computer, chatting with their big brother on Google's Hangout.

I love that being in this country has strengthened their love for one another, and their friendship.  I don't know if the IDF helped with that, or gave them more to argue about.  ("Golani guys go through walls instead of over them."  "Yeah, well that's because Tzanchanim are too chicken to face the wall head on, so they fly over it."  "At least Shirion guys go through the wall in tanks instead of with their heads."  "Hah!  The only people crazier than Golani guys are bus drivers!"  "Oh, yeah?  Well -- your mother wears army boots!  [pause]  Oh, yeah... she did...")

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Got a call from Sports Guy after Shabbat.

"It was a good Shabbat, Ema," he said.  No special excitement.  It wasn't an amazing Shabbat.  It's just Sports Guy's way to be pretty accepting of his situation.  "I had guard duty at Ma'ariv [the evening prayer service]..."

"How was the food?  Any good?" I interrupted.

"Yeah, well, no, actually it was pretty bad.  [He laughed a little here.]  Except at Ma'ariv... but of course, I was on guard duty.

"So I was thinking 'Well, I'll just daven here by myself, then.  That'll be okay... and suddenly I see all these people walking toward me.  I thought 'Okay.  No big deal.'  But as they're coming toward me, I see it's all the dati (religious) guys, and even some chiloni (secular) guys, but they're wearing kipot... and the rabbi is with them...

"And the rabbi says to me, 'If you can't come to the minyan... the minyan will come to you!'

"And all those guys came to the guard shack, and we davened Ma'ariv right there."

"Wow!" I said, truly overwhelmed with love for these soldiers, and this rabbi.  "So it was pretty good after all -- except for missing out on the good food," I said with a wink he couldn't see.

"Oh, no, Ema.  I didn't miss out.  Somebody brought me food, too..."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!!!
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