January 9, 2009
1. Mazal Tov to the Damari family on the wedding of their son Orel this week! We wish them tremendous happiness and success. Orel is an officer in the Israeli army. Rav Avi Ronski the chief Rabbi of the Israeli army who is one of the founders of Itamar, officiated the wedding ceremony. Immediately, after the wedding Harav Ronski had to return to the battle field and give strength to the soldiers in Gaza. Rav Ronski was described by many on the radio this week as one of the heroes of this war. He has been running from the battle field to the hospital to grieving families without rest. He has been coined Elijah the prophet.
2. Unfortunately, we have to express our condolences as well. Rav Uzi Demari’s mother passed away a day after the wedding.
3. Itamar prays for the welfare of all its sons together with the rest of our precious soldiers who are in Gaza right now defending the country. Please read the enclosed letter of an Itamar mother describing her feelings about her son at this difficult time.
A Mother of a Soldier writes:
Yosef’s whiskey tumbler remained full as we commenced from Kiddush to lunch. I stared at it as it seemed to rumble on the sober Shabbat table. But this Shabbat wouldn’t have any doldrums that sometimes accompany its calm weather. He excused himself suddenly, holding his pocket (that had his cell phone which is on 24 hours a day including Shabbat in case of an emergency call up) and ran downstairs to his room. The whiskey remained where it was.We already knew clouds of war were brewing when HaRav Avi Ronsky, the Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, who lives here on Itamar got a call during the Kabbalat Shabbat service the previous evening. Now it was Yosef’s turn. Within minutes he came back to us wearing his uniform, gear and of course M16. “I have no time! I gotta go!”
As a child, his interest in exploring caves, investigating snakes and scorpions from up close enthralled us all. He was a born naturalist. He was bred in the rustic and unsophisticated landscape of the Shomron. The wild hills and unconquered mountains were his stage. He and his friends set up theater on this vista as they went through the pains and joys of early adolescence in a sometimes turbulent but challenging environment. They began to practice for the next stage of their lives, the call of duty for their homeland.
While most mothers of combat soldiers in elite units are obsessed with questions to their sons like, ” Where are you sleeping?” or “How are you managing in such rough conditions?”, I know that Yosef feels untroubled by the snow, the rain, the sleeping on boulders or even hearing enemy fire. He has always had to hear the cries from the mosques calling for the land to be Judenrein. He has also unfortunately lost many friends from Itamar and nearby places in terror attacks and I, as a parent have been challenged with this from time immemorial. Luckily, the ever present but unseen energies of this Land provide a supportive and nurturing environment. He has had his hands forever in the rich soil of new farms and organic gardens and knows from a very young age how important every rock, every stone and piece of earth this is to all the Jewish people. It is natural seeing the main feature of the parsha from our living room window. People all over the world call their sons Yosef, but here in the Land of Yosef-Shechem this is a privilege.
Yosef has been in the army for almost 2 years. When I miss him more than usual, I go into his room and spray a little of his Hugo Boss. I say tehillim and go out and buy him junk. (He told me about the special pocket on his hip that he stores candy in).
He’s a man but he’s also a boy.
A few months ago he was training intensely. Aside from all the shooting and navigating he said he was training to be a rock. “A what?” I asked. “This is essential for combat!” was his answer. I tried being a rock for about 5 minutes and then fell over. He’s learnt to do this for days on end. So here come the mother of combat soldier questions:” How do you eat?”, “How do you move?”, and (sorry for the crudeness), “How do you make?”! He described training on the Blackhawk helicopters, the tough urban warfare and the endless shooting ( “Yosef, I hope you have your earplugs on!”).
Over time, he brought some boys from his crew home for Shabbat.. It was so eye opening to realize what achdut this meant. The boys were all different, there were dudes, gentlemen, (no nerds), rich, poor, black and kibbutznikim. Some had only basic knowledge of Judiasm and some seemed more grounded than our own son. But one thing they all had in common- their aim at protecting the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. As the mother of a soldier in combat I see these boys as the generation that left the desert to enter the Land. They have no shackles on them but only a healthy attitude about doing the mitzvah of settling and protecting the Land. This generation of soldiers, our sons, have said to the entire world (like it or not like it) that the Jewish people have returned to their Land. Go and tell those Roman soldiers that banished us 2,000 years ago that no-one can do this again!
Tomorrow is Shabbat. I don’t think Yosef will be able to come. Duty calls. We raise a toast of Le’chaim to him and all of Tzahal to their safety and success.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith
wife of the mayor Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith of Yeshuv Itamar Shomron, website: www.friendsofitamar.org