Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dressed in Whites

When you hold that kid for the first time, in a hospital in Detroit, you imagine the milestones he’s going to reach. You can envision him heading off to school for the first time, playing sports, graduating from high school and college, and getting married. And then life happens, and you find yourself enthralled by that kid doing things that are so far off your radar, it needs its own radar.

When Daniel was born Aliyah wasn’t something that we were considering. But ten years later, we were on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight to Israel. I never pictured him wearing those fantastic white uniforms with Israel emblazoned across his chest, representing his new country in baseball tournaments in Czech Republic, Italy, and the United States. I couldn’t foresee him wearing those white Bnei Akiva shirts as he disappeared every Shabbat. And I don’t think I could have ever predicted that one day, I would be sitting in the bleachers in Haifa, with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop watching him wearing a white uniform being sworn into the naval unit of the Israeli army.

There were about 170 of them, standing at attention, relaxing, and standing at attention once again. The rav from the base read something from Sefer Yehoshua, and then together as one, they pledged to defend the State of Israel. They were divided up into three groups, which I’m sure there is a military terms for it but as an Oleh, I have no idea what that term might be. And then, each group began calling up the soldiers one by one. They ran to their Mifaked, one at a time, with music playing across the square where the ceremony took place. They stopped, saluted, and took a step closer to their commanding officer. They were handed a gun and a tanach, and the sound of Ani Ashbeer (I swear) rang out for the next ten minutes as each soldier individually committed himself to serving in the defense of Israel.  

The scene felt like we were watching a movie. The song Al Tid’agi Li Ima (Don’t worry about me mom) played as Daniel ran to get his gun and swear in. Together, Aviva and I watched as our boy began something we could have never envisioned.