Sunday, April 22, 2007

While my wife went to a Remembrance Day ceremony at her school, together with our daughter, I stayed home with our two youngest children. I bathed our 4 1/2 year old son, brushed his teeth and let him put on his pyjamas. While bathing, with his head still full of shampoo, he wanted to show me that he knows how to sing Hatikvah. He does know most of it, it sounds very moving. I asked him to do it once more, and with my mobile phone I filmed the first ten seconds or so, to send to my parents. When he was ready for bed he was allowed to play a game on the computer and wait for the siren to sound for one minute at 8 PM. He was a bit nervous about the siren. Of course he knows, from kindergarten, that he is supposed to stand still and bow his head, but he also remembers the sirens from the war. Those sirens meant real rockets, real bangs and real danger. He constantly made sure that I was near him. After I finished bathing our baby son I gave him his bottle for the night, and the three of us sat on the couch in front of the television, watching the official ceremony at the Western Wall and waiting for the siren to start. For days I was sure that during the siren I would think about the parents, wives, and children of the soldiers who fell during the latest - I should say last, I know - war, such as the family of Nimrod Hallel z"l. Instead I stood, held and hugged our youngest in my arms and looked at my four-year-old son with tears in my eyes, hoping and praying that never, ever will I have to stand at the Wailing Wall or at any other national monument or cemetery as a representative of the Bereavement Family ( Mishpahat HaShkhol ), with personal grief, sorrow and loss somehow turned into national ones. I felt guilty because of that hope, that prayer, and my selfishness, and I apologize if this offends anybody, but for a few moments I just could not help it. Then I put the two of them to bed, after giving the oldest boy an extra hug and kissing both of them good night. Five minutes later I had picked myself up again, and I was able to watch a beautiful documentary about what must be one of the most difficult jobs in the Israeli army: that of the officers who are sent to tell families that their loved ones are killed or badly wounded in action.

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