Now It’s Your Turn to Protect and Defend
by: Sagi Melamed
You were born 19 years ago, during the first months that we lived in Hoshaya [community in northern Israel]. For us, you symbolize our decision to make this community our permanent home. And now you too, Ari Benartzi, our third child, are enlisting in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. You will join the ranks of your sister, who is serving as an officer, and your brother, who has just finished his service. The smell of uniforms and military sweat has yet to dissipate from your shared bedroom, and now it’s set to make a return.
The sand and dirt will return as well. When your older brother came home from the army at the end of the week with a bag full of laundry, prohibited from telling us how his uniform got so dirty, ima [mother] would try to guess what he had been doing by the color and smell of the grime on his uniform, just before she stuffed it into the washing machine. It looks like she will have to keep on guessing.
The night before Ari enlisted, his brother wrote him the following note:
The thought of my little brother joining the army makes me truly emotional. You, whom I still think of as somewhere between 8th and 9th grade. And it seems as if it was only a few days ago that we were talking about karate, high school, the Ma’ale Gilboa yeshiva, watching movies and now—suddenly—you’re trying to squeeze your feet into those black boots, running breathlessly to beat the clock. My little brother is marching with giant steps into Israel’s crucible of adulthood.
SOURCE: Bridges for Peace