After sun set on Saturday, 17 November 2012, with the weekend over, it was time to drive my daughter back to her apartment in Tel Aviv. I had very mixed feelings about that – after all rockets had already been fired at the Greater Tel Aviv area. On the one hand, I wanted my daughter to stay close to home, on the other hand, I have raised my children to be responsible people who live ordinary Israeli lives. This past Saturday night living an ordinary Israeli life meant driving my daughter down to Tel Aviv so that she could begin her work week bright and early on Sunday. Nonetheless, it was not an easy drive for me…I am, after all, first an Ima, no different from other mothers anywhere else in the world…and all of us mothers want our children to live safe, secure, productive ordinary lives.
As we drove down both of us noticed that traffic was lighter than usual for a Saturday night. We didn’t comment about that, instead we spoke about her upcoming birthday and other typical mother/daughter chit chat. Then my daughter’s cell phone began ringing with text messages and phone calls from friends who had received “Tzav 8” (Order 8 – reserve duty call up). The rest of the drive was taken up by the drawing up of a list of those who had been called up. My daughter, in keeping with Jewish tradition listed the soldier’s name followed by the designation Ben Shel (for a son) or Bat Shel (for a daughter) and then the name of the individual’s mother. She wrote in large, clear Hebrew letters to make it easier for me to read and quickly add them to my daily prayers and Psalm singing. In some cases a favorite Psalm was noted, in others call up time or unit, so that I would know how to pray for each one of the soldiers and their unit on my list. In keeping with a firmly established family tradition, we do not pray for ourselves or our family members before we have prayed for someone else in a similar situation, the last name my daughter added to the list was that of her brother, my son, who is currently fulfilling his 3 years of compulsory active duty with the Israel Defense Forces.
Soon enough, too soon in fact, we were at her apartment. After unloading her backpack, home made baked goods and other “Ima Loves You” food stuffs we went for a short walk about her neighborhood. We found her area’s air raid shelter located at 47 seconds from her front door, 15 seconds at a clean run. Closer still to her apartment we found a secure stairwell inside one of the larger buildings. This is very good, as from the sound of the air raid siren, the Greater Tel Aviv area has 1 minute 40 seconds to take cover. “Please do behave as if you only have 60 seconds”, I reminded her.
I suggested that we go back into her apartment so that I could help her organize a “go to shelter grab bag”. Firmly but smiling, my Israeli born daughter said: “No, Ima, it is time for you to get going. I will organize the ‘grab-bag’ on my own.” I hugged her and laying my hands on her head, I blessed her. Then I got into my car and began my drive back up to Jerusalem. As I drove home I noticed that the roads were even more sparsely populated than before. It was a lonely drive up to Jerusalem, taking only 40 minutes instead of the usual Saturday night 60 minutes, the radio with its regular “Tzeva Adom” air raid alerts for the southern part of Israel, was poor company. On the drive I had enough time to think about how proud I am of my daughter…nothing, not even the possibility of a rocket salvo fired into Tel Aviv by Hamas Terrorists from Gaza will keep her from living her ordinary Israeli life. Truly she is no different from any other Israeli all she wants is to live a safe, secure, good, full and productive life. Since she’s a young 20 something Israeli she also wants to have fun!