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This is a general photo of IDF soldiers, we're not one for linking this part of our life with our son. I would not want him to read this journal, not for a very long time yet, he has a young life of his own to live right now. Someday later maybe.

Below is an article about this part of his placement at base Michve Alon in north Israel near Sefed:

D was placed in a unit with other young men from all over the world. Their commanders speak only Hebrew, get it wrong do a lot of pushups. This is language emersion by fire. It works! The kid is thinking in Hebrew and more and more I hear him using phrases, whole sentences. Meanwhile he has entered the world of male/soldier bonding and for all the absurdities of army life he is still laughing and positive. He's sent home pictures of himself in uniform, very handsome but our kid now looks like a man. We all knew this would happen but pictures make it real.

He just finished the first phase of his training at IDF Ulpon (language emersion) basic training. The ending of this phase sent him for a 4 day maneuvers in combat conditions out in the rain, in tents, running 5k in full gear carrying stretchers. Today they had a ceremony where they were given the first of many arm tags. He now is no longer just an inductee, he's officially a soldier with a designation. Now he will spend two months part time in combat training and classrooms becoming proficient in Hebrew so he can go on to an actual devision of the army.

One of the differences from our army is that most weekends soldiers gets to go home to their family. Parents support there children thru their service. As a "lone soldier" (soldier w/o parents) D gets extra pay and money for rent. He has signed up to have his rent stipend to the kibbutz where my friends are members, tho of late he's been staying with my sister, because it's closer to his base. Soldiers get free public transportation all over the country but it takes 8hrs to get from the north to the kibbutz in south of Israel. Weekends are for sleep and food, lots of food and maybe a night out. What with meeting all these new people he has made friends all over the country and travels to stays with them as well. Life for him has become full of exciting and challenging experiences just what a young person needs to keep them busy.

We're very proud of him. He set this goal for himself, put it into motion and carried thru. He traveled off to a country with little working knowledge of the language and volunteered to serve in their army. He has a deep commitment to Israel as a Jew. I know that's hard for most people to grasp and we've had some really nasty things said to us about D's choice to serve Israel and not the US. This choice gives him a chance to be with folks from all over the world, others with his commitment to Israel and for once he will not be in the minority.

With the pride comes the worry. The moms here had a freak out at the first picture of D with a gun in hand. They had settled some with the decision knowing Israel take "surviving son" serious, but D has asked us to sign a waver so he might enter a combat unit. So far we have avoided this, but now we must make the trip to the Israeli consulate to see what is necessary to sign. The moms are against signing, but we know his reasons for needing to do this and as apposed to war as we are, in the end we will sign, even the mothers. We will sign because this life is his own and as much as we want a guarantee, especially after our other son's death, this is D's future not ours. We will worry, be proud, support him and sometimes hold our breath.



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