Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Care Packages for Soldiers

This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 28 February 1999

Last week, my 6 year old brought home a letter from school. Not so unusual - you probably get them all the time. But this letter was, for me, another one of those reminders of why I'm glad I live here. The children (indeed, children all over the country) were asked to bring care packages to school, complete with a letter written by the child, to be sent to the young men currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). As many of you may know, all young men serve in the army for three years, starting at age eighteen.

Children in Israel learn early about wars, tragic accidents like the army helicopter collision in early 1997, terrorist attacks, and death. When Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, the teacher in my daughter's preschool discussed what happened with the kids. I was shocked, at first, to learn that even four and five year olds were hearing about these things. Then I realized that they would hear it anyway, from their parents, the television news, and eventually, from one another. Much better, I realized, to have it discussed openly and dealt with in the structured environment of the school.

Kids here also learn about the army when they see their fathers go off every year to serve for as long as one month in the army reserves. They learn about responsibility, patriotism and national defense. Our Independence Day celebrations tend to focus heavily on national pride in the armed forces.

And of course, for many of the children who brought home that letter from school last week, the soldier who gets that care package is a big brother, a cousin, or a neighbor. Although Israel keeps growing and changing, in many ways we are still a small community. And that is part of what makes living here special to me.

(c) Amy Samin

No comments: