This entry, this special day for Ben, is captured in this email Bernard wrote, complete with special spellings!
This kibbutz is like the garden of Eden. Roasting hot sun, flowers all over . Mickey Mouse cactus. Pomgranites growing right on bushes. Birds singing .Why din I have sense to move to Israel when I was a kid? Because I din have sense for anything when I was a kid. Now I would be a brown alte kaker hanging out with my friends in the dining hall. (Actually, I would prolly be sick of everyone and hiding in my apartment.)
Our own kids are like gods, tall, handsome, beautiful. They are not totally intolerant of their parents, and nice to be around.
The trip to the ceremony was a wonderful tour the length of Israel from the desert in the South to the mountains in the North and the ceremony itself was wonderful. Israeli folk music blared over the loudspiker instead of martial music. Ben was sunburned , tall, handsome, mostly serious. Rows and rows of perspiring young men in their green uniforms standing in the sun with their weapons. The other soldiers’ families were such a variety , from Druze to Yemenite to Russian to Ethiopian to Sabras.
I din have to block out the spiches because I couldn’t understand the Hebrew. Besides , I was too busy jostling and being jostled by the other pipple standing in the audience. I now have complete and intimate knowledge of the topography of the typical Israeli scalp.
The ceremony was @ the Golani Center, not actually a town itself. Its a grassy field, a couple boulders and defunct tanks , a few flags, a wooden stage and some wall plaques.
I originally thought the plan was:
Ben goes to the army. Trains, learns Hebrew. There is a war and he gets shot up or killed. I weep for him for the short rest of my life. (What does psychoanalysis teach us if not that everything that happens is actually about ourselves, rather than those it might be happening to?)_And, in fact, there is a wall behind the speakers with the names of Golanis who died fighting.
But there usually is another plan. Most guys train, learn Hebrew, become as fit as mountain goats, make close friends and come home without ever firing live ammunition at anyone. Most guys, most. Ben, I hope.
We went to an Arab restaurant afterwards. Our long table was covered in dishes and flatbread and liters of lemonade with fresh mint.So many salads few of us ordered entrees. We ate and ate and when we finished eating, the waiter moved us to a fresh table for coffee and desert rather than deal with the mess we had made. And imagine, our forbears ate like that while riding on camel back in the desert and neatly.
Addendum from me (Elena). We owe so much of the success of the day to Michal. She arranged to get us there driving the van full through the heat of the day and some heavy traffic and complicated directions, all the while attending to our comfort and needs. She is delightful, competent, and direct. A pleasure to talk to. A true caregiver. She managed to get us there with perfect timing. And to deliver us to the post event dinner, a perfect choice of restaurants. And then, while the rest of us dozed in our state of over full bellies, she soldiered on driving through the night and returning us to the kibbutz. Thank you Michal. Ben is veery fortunate to have here as is Israeli mother.
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