Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"What is the Jew?"

Yom shlishi, 27 Tamuz 5772.

The hot summer, involvement in hasbara (Israeli public diplomacy), and simple contentment with life, have kept me from writing much lately.  Fortunately, the hot summer seems to inspire Yeshiva Bochur, aka Exiled Warrior, to write about his experiences in the IDF.  Here is an especially sweet post.  If you enjoy this piece, you may want to peruse some of his other recent writing at his blog.

We all looked up surprised when a bus full of young children pulled into our base on the Israel-Lebanon border. We were working on our equipment as they poured off the bus with huge smiles and eyes filled with wonderment. A smile soon crossed every tired soldier’s face as the kids ran around firing questions faster than some of the machine guns that were present.

It soon became understood that the children were those who had lost family members in war and or terror attacks. The sergeant called for a break from work and gathered everyone into one big room.

Usually this particular room is used for briefings before patrols on the border, but today it became filled with soldiers and children, or more appropriately, younger siblings and older brothers.

The kids donned with pride the red berets of the soldiers, and listened intently as they explained about the different types of guns and equipment.

All the kids had prepared letters which they handed out to the soldiers.

Mine was written by two young girls named Talia and Mashi. This is what they wrote:

Dear Soldier,

Shalom, our names are Talia and Mashi. We are campers in the summer camp "Mishpacha Echat." A camp for people whose families have been effected from war or terror. 

Both of our families have all been effected from terror. 

I (Talia), my older brothers, Lidor and Oriah, were killed on a bus in Jerusalem on a way to a family event. My father was injured slightly from the attack and my mother was not injured. My uncle, his wife and two kids were also killed in the attack. 

It is hard for me to be without my older brothers. 

I (Mashi), my father was killed in a shooting in the North. He was already let off his work before because of an injury from another terror attack. After the first attack he became a driver. He was taking people to work when he was killed. 

My father was killed when I was a year and two months. To be without a father is very hard. 

Thank you for guarding us, look out for yourselves.

We love you.

Talia and Mashi

These are the heroes I had the pleasure to be around today. This amazing camp, "Mishpacha Echat" brings these children here and they strengthen us and we strengthen them. The nation is strengthened. "The Nation builds the army, the army builds the Nation." That is the army's mantra.

Mark Twain, after studying the "The Jew," became perplexed and remarked: "All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

Our enemies have tried to destroy us time and again. They believe that they, like a mighty wave, will be able to extinguish the Jewish flame. But they, like all their predecessors, sink back into the sea, forgotten. The Jew however, is still standing. You have killed my older brothers, my father, my uncle, my nieces and nephews. But you have killed only their bodies. Their souls are eternal, we are eternal.

I am so proud of my Nation. When I see those bright-eyed kids that the enemy tried to destroy, wearing paratroopers’ red berets, I am reassured that we will never be defeated. We stand together, as One Family -- as a " Mishpacha Echat."

That Mr. Twain -- that is our secret.
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