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The IDF's Newest Soldier: My Son

The IDF's Newest Soldier: My Son

I’ve been staring at my son's recruitment notice on my fridge for a year now,

Personal message: in accordance with section 7 of the Security Services Law of 1986 (henceforth: the Law), the medical committee that examined you declares you are fit to serve. By the powers vested in me, under Section 13 of the Law, I, Head of Recruitment Lieutenant Colonel Amir Chai, summon you for a period of 36 months to National Military Service, starting August 6th, 2014. You are to report at 7:30am on Ammunition Hill to begin your service.

Like every Israeli mother, hopeful against all reason that there will be a different reality by the time her child reaches conscription age, I can't believe this day has come: my youngest son, Yoel, is being drafted into the Israel Defense Forces. Tomorrow morning he leaves for basic training. As required, he will be bringing three pairs of underwear, one pair of high boots, one razor, and a conscience.

I'm experiencing conflicting emotions of pride and concern. My beautiful smart boy, who believes in pluralism, tolerance, and civic equality, will be exposed to the complex, politically charged, evolving reality of an IDF soldier.  I wonder; has his upbringing inoculated him enough to cope with these pressures? Will his values withstand the test of reality?

As my 18-year-old prepares to join the air force, I can only hope that he will pass this test with body and soul intact. May we all pass these challenging days to find that the universal Jewish values on which this state was founded can withstand the reality of the Middle East today.

Anat Hoffman is the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in Israel. She is also the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, a group of Jewish women and men from around the world who strive to achieve the right of women to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Anat Hoffman
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