A second child becomes a lone soldier, mother says ‘thanks once again!’

As much as we miss you every single day, we couldn’t be more proud of your commitment to the Jewish People and the Jewish state.

IDF soldiers during a training exercise (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF soldiers during a training exercise
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On December 8, 2015, The Jerusalem Post ran a piece I wrote entitled “Thank you to the people of Israel from the mother of a lone soldier.” In it, I detailed my appreciation for the new friends and even strangers who had showered my daughter, Ariella, a sharpshooter in the Caracal Battalion, with warmth and kindness.
While the emails that I received from thoughtful readers in both Israel and the US were much appreciated, I was particularly grateful for the opportunity to express my thanks. For as any parent would attest, when someone is good to your child, your gratitude knows no bounds.
Now I am compelled to express my appreciation once again. On December 18, 2016, just six months after my daughter finished her service and almost a year to the day that the first article appeared, my oldest child, Sammy, became the second Azair sibling to join the IDF as a lone soldier. He is just weeks away from finishing his training as a magist (machine gun operator) in the Paratroopers and on October 26 is scheduled to have his tekes kumta.
As was the case for his sister and, indeed, most lone soldiers, the difficulties of being far from home have been very real and the challenges significant. At 22 and a half, my son entered the army four years older than most of his fellow recruits. An honors graduate of Yeshiva University, he has always been considered bright and articulate, which makes his struggle to master the Hebrew language and express himself in the manner that he is used to all the more frustrating.
Yet, despite the challenges, in the nine months since Sammy began his service, I have never once heard him question his decision to enlist. His continued belief in the rightness of that decision can be attributed, in part, to the warmth and compassion he has experienced from those around him. Like his sister before him, my son has benefited from the many little and great kindnesses bestowed by Israelis, both anonymous and familiar. With that in mind, I would like to thank the following: • The rabbis of Lev LaChayal, Yeshivat Lev HaTorah’s groundbreaking Yeshiva Lone Soldier Program. Thank you for providing my son with a nurturing environment, a beautiful apartment, a stocked fridge and invitations to your homes for Shabbat and the chagim when he wasn’t on base.
• The woman from the Ramat Shilo community who has cooked countless meals for my son and his fellow lone soldier roommates, including a pre-Yom Kippur feast so they could relax upon returning to their apartment just hours before the Fast. Thank you for treating my son and his friends as your own.
• The staff of the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. Whether it’s a Thanksgiving celebration, Shabbat dinner or coming to celebrate with my son and other lone soldiers in the Paratroopers after their first jump, thank you for being a welcoming presence in their lives.
• The storekeeper who, seeing my son enter his establishment, yelled out,“Tzanchan!” (Paratrooper!) in an admiring tone. Thank you for making him feel very proud.
• The women at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem who urged my son to take some of the snacks that they were providing for soldiers “just because.” Thank you for being Jewish mothers when distance prevents me from doing the same.
• The taxi driver who picked my son up at the train station before Rosh Hashana. When he went to pay the fare, you said, “You came here to be a soldier. I can give you a free ride,” and refused to accept his money.
Thank you for starting his New Year with such a sweet gesture.
• Racheli and Nika, my son’s group commander and Hebrew language commander (respectively) at Michvei Alon. Thank you for being such caring and passionate advocates for my son. He could not have asked for better commanders as he began his life as a new soldier.
• Our dear family friends in Tel Aviv and Efrat. If I am blessed with 120 years, I still won’t be able to repay all the kindnesses you have bestowed upon both of my lone soldiers. You are my children’s adoptive parents in Israel and they couldn’t ask for any better.
I want to wish a mazal tov to my beloved son on his upcoming tekes kumta and to all of the lone soldiers who serve with him and throughout the IDF. I will presume to speak for all of your parents when I tell you that, as much as we miss you every single day, we couldn’t be more proud of your commitment to the Jewish People and the Jewish state. To the many Israelis who have gone out of their way to show these brave young men and women from around the world, including my children, that they really aren’t alone, I can only repeat what I wrote in this paper almost two years ago.
“May each person who has shown my child such benevolence have their good deeds come back to them many times over.”
Thanks once again!
The author is a Los Angeles-based writer and communications consultant.