Many years ago, our son, Zev, was joining the IDF as a Chayal Boded, a “Lone Soldier.” It’s a special group of kids whose family do not live in Israel, have no obligation to join but volunteer to defend this country and the Jewish people.
I was saying goodbye to him and flying back to the U.S., where we were living at the time. My taxi driver, who was taking me to the airport, noticed I was a little emotional, and I explained that “Ben Sheli,” my son, was becoming a Chayal Boded. The driver, with that classic shaved-head, no kippah male Israeli look, immediately raised his hand and replied with passion: “Lo boded!”— he is not alone. “He will come to me for Shabbat, for sukkot….”
It was so moving– I did not know this man; he did not know my son, but immediately he was willing to make him part of his family.
Because we are family– a highly dysfunctional family– but a family nonetheless. And when you are part of a family, you are never alone.
This week my husband and I went to the wedding of two lone soldiers, both from Florida, who met here in Israel while serving in the IDF. The Kallah, bride, spoke to Momentum’s group of Mothers of Lone Soldiers back in 2019, as her mother on the trip cried and kvelled with pride. In 10 days, we and Israel will welcome another group of Mothers of Lone Soldiers, along with Healthcare Heroes, NCSY Moms, and an inspired group from Philly.
Under the chuppah, overlooking the hills of Jerusalem, two became one. Now they can open up their new home to others so that no one will ever be alone.