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Thursday, July 18, 2013

We dropped off our little girl today...

I feel like my whole life has been spent dropping Ariella off.

I can still remember dropping her off at nursery school, kindergarten and grade school.  We dropped her off at youth group events, at friends' houses and at the mall.  We dropped her at high school, at her navigation and survival courses and at her mechina (pre-military academy).

What every one of those drop-offs had in common was that no matter what... no matter how focused, excited, frightened or ambivalent Ariella might have been about where she was going... she always looked back... just as she had on that first day of nursery school... and smiled.  Some kids look back to seek reassurance and courage from their parents.  Ariella always seemed to peek back over her shoulder in order to reassure us... as if to say, "Don't worry, I'll be just fine."

But nothing prepares a parent for dropping a child off at an army induction center.

This morning at 7:30 AM, Zahava and I dropped our little girl off on Ammunition Hill, to begin a challenge/adventure that will last two years, perhaps more.

When we arrived, there were dozens of other families already milling about outside with their draft-age children.  And although many of the 'kids' knew each other and spent a lot of the time hugging old friends and trying to act like this was just another day, all the parents could do was look at one another and smile with our hearts in our mouths.

Waiting

After about half an hour (after all, the army is all about waiting, right?), a voice came over the loudspeaker telling everyone to come inside.  As we filed inside, the 'kids' were asked to show their teudat zehut (national I.D. card) and tsav giyus (draft notice) to a Sergeant stationed at the entrance.

ID

Ariella's name was duly checked off on the list, and we went in and stood around waiting for her name to appear on a big electronic board.

Like all the other families, we took photos of Ariella... as if by capturing her image at this place and time we could somehow keep her in our pockets and by our side.

Before long, we heard Ari's name called over the overhead loudspeaker, and her name, along with several other soon-to-be soldiers, flashed up on the electronic board.  

Board

We took our little girl through the crowd to the end of the large hall where her I.D. and draft notice were checked once more against a list, she was handed a small book of Psalms and a wrapped piece of candy... and ushered through a door to a curving outside walkway.  And although we knew that up that walkway waited the beginning of the rest of our little girl's life, we couldn't join her... she had to go alone.

As I said, nothing prepares a parent for such a moment.  How could it?  

But as my heart was both breaking and bursting with pride, just before Ariella turned the corner and was lost from view, she looked back just like she always had... just a little peek to reassure us that she'd be just fine.

Looking back

Posted by David Bogner on July 18, 2013 | Permalink

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David, you are a master of conveying so much emotion with so few words. Thank you very much and thanks to your family for allowing you to write about them.

Posted by: Drew | Jul 18, 2013 6:03:02 PM

Love these stories. I was a Chayal Boded back in the day, so went through this on my own.
כל הכבוד

Posted by: נפתלי | Jul 18, 2013 6:10:38 PM

Drew... "so few words..."? Now I won't believe anything you say! :-)

נפתלי ... We had a lone soldier living with us for almost 4 years. I hope you ha d a family to look after you.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 18, 2013 6:26:18 PM

Beautifully said! As the proud mother of an IDF soldier, I can really relate.
May Hashem watch over and protect your daughter and all our beloved chayalim!

Posted by: Mrs. S. | Jul 18, 2013 7:45:22 PM

Mrs. S. ... Amen

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 18, 2013 8:04:02 PM

Proud Aunt crying at her desk at work... just saying...

She's beautiful, inside & out! :)

Posted by: val | Jul 18, 2013 8:35:36 PM

She met up with Marc Prowisor's girl?

Posted by: Yisrael Medad | Jul 18, 2013 9:18:33 PM

Oh, my... She has come a long way since second grade. Those "heart in mouth feelings" you described brought back memories of Tonny 7 years ago. We'll be Davening for Ariella.

Posted by: Avi | Jul 18, 2013 10:04:57 PM

David- my prayers and best wishes for Ariella and the entire family...hope to see her here 2 years from now along with the "shanti shanti" crowd :-)

Posted by: Sonal | Jul 18, 2013 10:33:04 PM

David

Well written. I feel your love, your pride, and your worry. Outstanding. I pray for Ariel.

Posted by: antares | Jul 19, 2013 1:33:56 AM

Know exactly what you mean. Don't worry, she'll be fine.

Posted by: Moish | Jul 19, 2013 4:32:58 AM

Whew..I started reading this blog around this time in 2006..seven years ago. The pictures of Ariella you posted back then were of a little girl. It's hard to believe that so much time has past and that she's a woman now. And a beautiful young lady she is, too. I've never met any of you in person, but I get that feeling that you and Zahava did a very good job in not only bringing up not only a fine young lady, but a good citizen and servant of her country as well. Well done.

P.S. Now you know what your parents felt when you shipped off to boot camp. :)

Karl

Posted by: Karl | Jul 19, 2013 6:12:04 AM

Two years ago today I dropped my oldest daughter off at Tel Hashomer, and yesterday she finished and did the ceremonial "cut the choger in half" ceremony. I don't know which day made us more proud - the day she entered, or the day she completed her two years of service.

Mazal tov to Ariella and to Ariella's parents!

Posted by: AF | Jul 19, 2013 8:29:01 AM

How could something so succinctly written be so powerful? You really have become a master at this. Mazal Tov to Ariella and you guys. May G-d keep her and all our soldiers safe.

Posted by: Baila | Jul 19, 2013 8:48:14 AM

Kol hakavod & Mazal Tov, Ariella! She's in my tefillot, along with all chayalei Yisrael. And I always add a special prayer for the parents, too :)
Hope to see you guys soon!

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 21, 2013 1:29:23 PM

At the risk of being redundant (because it can't be said enough): May Hashem keep Ariella your daughter and all our chayalim safe!

You're so damn good at putting a lump in my throat.

Posted by: Alissa | Jul 21, 2013 2:06:30 PM

Mazal tov. I know you will worry from time to time, but she is now participating in what may be the greatest mitzvah possible in this generation. We are all grateful to her, and pray for her safety and success; and that of her colleagues.

Posted by: Mordechai Y. Scher | Jul 22, 2013 4:31:30 PM

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