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Just Come Home Safe

By Valeria Nemaiser Sakhnovitch
 
This post, which was originally written in Russian, went viral in Israel and around the world. With the author’s permission, it was translated into English by Arkady Mamaysky.

Yesterday I witnessed a common scene in Israel: I was standing in line at a supermarket register. In the lane next to mine, a soldier was waiting with a case of water bottles. He was in his field uniform, looking tired and dusty. Obviously, this was not his first day on duty.

I live next to the so-called territories and there are many military guards around us. In heat and cold, rain and shine, these youngsters are on patrol with their heavy equipment – protecting us.

A woman in her fifties was waiting in line behind the soldier. When his turn came to pay, she said to the soldier, “Do not pay, I will pay,” and to the cashier, “Add it to my bill.”

The cashier nodded with understanding. The soldier, feeling uncomfortable, attempted to object.

The woman turned to him and said: “My dear boy, consider this is a gift from mom. Just come home safe.”

The soldier hugged her and left. 
 
“They are all our kids,” said another customer. And we stood their weeping – the women, the cashiers, and half the people who witnessed this scene.

And I was thinking to myself: We are not a warlike people. We are the children of yiddishe mommes. To us, each child is our child – no matter how old or from which community.

What do we need in the end? Only for our kids to eat warm food and not walk barefoot on a cold floor. We need our whole family at the table, and for the house to be full of grandchildren who will eat our gefilte fish and pastries.

We need peace, not war. So that we do not panic about the day when our son will put on a military uniform and take a gun in his hand, or our husband will exchange warm slippers for army boots and a warm blanket for a sleeping bag.

We also need to gossip a little about the terrible dress bought by the neighbor next door. We need so little. We only need not be prevented from living a normal life.

But not being warlike does not mean being weak. We are proud of our children. And as loving mommies, we weep and swallow our tears while we pack our kids to go to the army, as diligently as we did for their school trips, trying despite their resistance – “mom they supply us with everything” – to squeeze a warm scarf into the army backpack.

And afterwards, we wait and pray, pray and wait – pray for all. Because there are no strangers’ kids. Because we know that somewhere somebody’s mom will say to our tired kid: My dear son, consider this a gift from mom. Just come home safe.




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