Last Friday night, we ate Shabbat dinner at Alan and Lisa's. Caleb, who is famous for his Calebism's - expressions of a certaintude and charm that often floor the listener - looked over at Natan and said, "You know, you are going to the war?" Natan, after a brief, digestive pause, said, "yes." Caleb seemed pleased, and responded, "So am I." End of discussion.
Natan actually had his first experience with the notion of the army. They had to fill out some sort of questionaire back at the beginning of the year. As well, a good friend of his, who turns 17 this January (6 months before Natan), received her "Tzav Rishon," essentially, her first call. All through 11th and 12th grade, kids have to show up at different times at the local army office for the beginning of their evaluation for readyiness for the army. They won't be called until they're 18 but they need to be assessed according to physical condition and strength, special skills and general wellness socially and emotionally. Our attitude at present has been not to dwell on these matters. I tell Natan that we can't worry about this as we have bigger fish to fry right now in terms of language and getting used to Israel. It helps that Natan has his cousins to talk to about these things as well as it gets closer. Leut. Dena, as my father likes to call her, is getting out in November. She's had a good experience working in educational programming related to the Israeli gadna program which is a weeks' trial of the army, usually in 12th grade. Benjy, is a driver to the Briagdier Gen'l in charge of the West Bank. He meets many interesting people, quite high up in the army command and overall is finding the experience interesting. Adam, Dena's younger brother, goes in in March. He's heading into an elite combat unit in the Paratrooper's brigade - kind of scary. Elisheva, Benjy's younger sister, will be going in in December, to the Press Relations Dep't, a plum opportunity that she's very excited about.
Suffice to say that as liberal, pacifist, left-wing politically, Jew from NY, I am somewhat bemused by the notion of my kid in the army. I actually think that service to one's country - be it any kind of service, is an excellent notion and that most teens of today, don't ever get a chance to consider how they can give back to society or serve society as they head from high school to college and from college to grad school and from grad school to the great big corporate world. It can take a person many years into their working adulthood to suddenly realize that they need to be involved in something else, something worthwhile and differently usefull than making a living. But, living here, oh, how many miles from Lebanon, Syria and Iran, one recognizes that a standing army is a useful thing. While I wish that the world was less combative and that people actually cared about something as mundane as peace on earth and goodwill to all humankind, reality tells us otherwise. We'll have to see as this thing plays out with Natan, how he deals with the idea of army and hope that he'll find the right kind of work that is suited to both his abilities and sensibilities as a new immigrant.
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