Note: The following letter was written by an Israeli Defense Force reservist. It is complete and unedited, with the following exceptions: (1) Certain terms are defined in (parenthesis), (2) Names have been omitted to protect his family members, (3) Grammatical clarifications.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:00
Dear Aba and Ema (father and mother)
After two weeks in meluim (military reserve duty) so much has happened and I want to share with you some of my thoughts.
A phone call from a blocked number, I know there’s a chance I’m going to be called to reserve duty, I decide to continue working, maybe it’s a mistake, but my phone rings again and again so I answer. “Shalom, this is a recorded message, if you are [name] please press 1, please press your military identity number, your unit is called up for duty and you must arrive as soon as possible in the war-time reserve unit.”
I hang up, look around me, I need to call (wife name), she will be fine on her own, (daughter) will learn so much while I’m away, 37 unread messages from work, I need to oil the front door cause it’s squeaking, I need to fill up our dog (name)’s food. Who’s going to lead the community meeting tonight? I need to cancel meetings.
I go to the storage room in our caravan, my army equipment was packed and stored just three months ago. I take out a few things, look for a few things around the storage room and the house, toothbrush, towel, Tallit and Tefilin, some dates and raisins.
(Wife) comes home and gives me a big hug. “You have to go pick up (daughter) now, you can’t leave without telling her goodbye.” I pick her up, how do I explain to her where I’m going. She repeats my words like always: “Aba Holech Meluim…”. We have lunch together, (wife) takes out of the freezer a chocolate yeast cake, my favorite, picks a book and brings a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and puts all of them on my back pack. That’s exactly what I will be missing in the next few weeks, how did she know…
I look at (wife and daughter), I love them so much, why do I have to leave them, when will I see them again, will something happen to me in combat. I hold (wife) give her a kiss, bend down to (daughter), ask her if she can give me a big hug and a kiss, of course she agrees, she understand that I’m going and that (wife) and I are a bit sad. I try to get a long hug but (daughter) had enough so I give her another kiss, give (wife) another kiss, say goodbye, get in the car. Just before I drive away I look at (wife)’s eyes, she can read my eyes easily, and I don’t need to tell her what I’m thinking. I’m on the way.
All the way to the unit I hear on the radio that there’s missiles falling all over, I suddenly understand that there are sirens right around where I am but I continue driving like nothing is wrong. Even when I pull over for a bathroom stop I hear a missile fall but I continue driving, I need to get to the unit as soon as possible.
Everyone’s very calm in the unit, we all know what we have to do, where we get our fighting equipment and gun. There’s no food so we order a few pizza’s from a nearby town and while we’re eating them we see the amazing Iron Dome shooting down a few missiles that were shot from Gaza. We get our orders towards the evening and go to the post we were positioned at. We get up early, go down to the firing range to calibrate our rifles. It turns out that you don’t forget how to shoot a rifle, I’m focused and my hits on the target are very good. The brigade commander explains why we’re here, what we are about to do and what’s the situation in the area. Each company departs to its post and replaces regular service soldiers that will go down to Gaza.
I got an order to meet the patrol, a sergeant from the unit we are replacing brief’s me on the mission, I thank him, give him a pat in the back and shake his hand and tell him to take care and come back fast. He says he will and goes to organize his equipment. 9 days later, in the middle of a patrol, we got a message that Eitan Barak, this soldier who briefed me, is the first soldier that is killed in “Operation Tzuk Eitan.”
Two weeks passed since I got that phone call that tore me from my routine and from my regular life and threw me to a new, known, hallucinatory, crazy reality. In my company there are 100 people, 100 people that left there regular life, family, job, hobbies and came here, to protect the State and the people of Israel. There are dozens of company’s just like ours that are all around Israel. There are about 40,000 amazing people that left everything to protect everything.
On a patrol a few days ago we met a Jewish journalist from the U.S who was touring Israel and was with one of the heads of ‘Gush Emunim’ in a place called Mount Kabir. My patrol driver is a Bedouin from the north, one soldier is from Tel Aviv and the second soldier is from Ashkelon (which is bombed frequently) and me, a simple Jew from (area in Israel) who is trying to establish a community of religious and secular people. This journalist was surprised to meet a combat soldier from Tel Aviv from the “political left wing” who comes to reserve duty each time he’s called up and loves Israel.
Yes, we live in an interesting place with a lot of interesting people. We should see the positive side of everyone and learn what we can from it but be sure to identify the negative sides of the people around us and address them in the best way.
I look around me during our operational activity, ambushes, lookouts, patrols, check points and more, and think to myself how can we stop this, how can we live in Israel without all these nuisance, without leaving everything and risking our lives. I can’t imagine myself living in another place and I can’t stand the thought that my children will probably continue living in this reality.
I believe there is a way to solve this problem, I have no idea what it is but I’m sure one day it will surprise us all. Throughout the history of the Jews and Israel we were hated and have had to struggle for independence. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change soon. What we can, should and must do is to be united, to look around us in a positive way, to listen to each other. To be realistic and know when to be decisive, and strong. We must stand up for our rights to be a free people in our home land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.