A mother’s prayers

Somewhere in my head, Gilad Schalit became my son, Nachshon, and my feelings toward him were totally maternal.

Nachshon Wachsman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nachshon Wachsman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I have been praying for Gilad Schalit’s safe return for more than five years.
Since their arrival at the tent outside the prime minister’s house, I have visited Noam and Aviva Schalit many, many times. I spoke out to the media from that tent many times as well. Somewhere in my head, Gilad Schalit became my son, Nachshon, and my feelings toward him were totally maternal. Though fear and terror for his fate existed, hope and optimism were above all.
At different turning points over the years, the media has remembered my son and has turned to me for statements, comparisons and opinions. I am not a politician, a diplomat or an expert on terrorism, nor am I well-versed on security or military issues. I am simply a mother, a mother who went through what no mother should have to, a mother who buried her son.
My world crashed to pieces on the night of October 14, 1994, the 10th day of the Hebrew month Cheshvan. Of course I coped; I did not have the “luxury” of breaking down. I had six other sons to raise, the youngest of whom were then eight-year-old twins.I could not abandon them, but I couldn’t abandon the son I had lost, either. It was the very bottom, the very worst time in my life.
When the news broke last week that a deal had been struck for Gilad Schalit’s release, my husband and I were at a wedding. At that point, all we wanted to do was to get to the tent and to embrace Noam and Aviva and to rejoice with them. I had no mixed feelings then, only relief and joy that Gilad would be coming home. A mother was to get her precious son back from hell. We cried and laughed and sang and danced, fraught with anxiety that nothing should go wrong, God forbid. We prayed that Gilad’s last days of captivity would pass quickly for him and his family, until we saw him safe and sound on Israeli soil, reunited with his family.
ONCE AGAIN, my family has become the focus of local and international media inquiries. “What do we think about the release of our son’s murderer? What did we think about the protest of other bereaved families who oppose this particular deal? How many more soldiers will be held hostage as a result of yielding to terrorist demands?” Our solid reply is that at this moment in history, God has been merciful, has listened to our prayers and said “yes” (in contrast to when our Nachshon was kidnapped, when He heard our prayers but decided the answer would be “no”). A young soldier would be released and would return to the bosom of his family, and of his people. God alone rules the world via his messengers on earth. I can only give thanks to Him, and to His messengers.
All the questions about negotiating with terrorists and yielding to their blackmail, the high price we paid for one soldier, the threat to our security, the weakening of our judicial system, the perceived weakness of our leaders and the biggest question of all - future policy - should be dealt with after Gilad Schalit is home.
Israel must decide on a policy and enforce it in the future May God bless us all.
The writer is the mother of Nachshon Wachsman, an IDF soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 1994 and killed in a rescue attempt several days later.