Paula R. Stern

Paula R. Stern – ON the Border

Paula R. Stern – ON the Border

I’ve often written that my sons guard the borders of Israel – all our sons. At this moment, and for the last week or so, Davidi has been very much ON the border. I won’t say which one; I won’t write where he is. We live in a very beautiful country and so, as always, I asked him to send me pictures. Anyone who knows Israel will recognize, more or less, where he is and so I won’t post them to the blog until he moves from there.

I love the pictures and so I tell him so. I sent him a picture of a street in Jerusalem and he asked me where it was and then why I sent it – I told him it was to encourage him to keep sending me pictures, and so he did.

He sent me one yesterday. I wrote him back that it’s very nice. He wrote back that it was a picture of another country and asked if I had noticed the border fence. I had.

I told him to tell his commanding officer that I don’t allow him to play so close to the fence. He wrote me back that he was on base.

I wrote him to tell him to tell his commanding officer to move the base!

It’s all very cute and funny unless you think about it. We have several borders – a relatively quiet one with Egypt, a rather messy one with Gaza. A relatively quiet one with Jordan, a scary one with Syria, and a fragile one with Lebanon.

War is often only one mistake away, one missile, one stray bullet or mortar.

At random moments of the day or night, the thought of where David returns to me. Each week in our synagogue (and tens of thousands of synagogues around the world, a prayer is said for the soldiers of Israel. For a mother with a soldier on the border, you feel this prayer in your heart. You close your eyes and listen to each word. He is there. Listen to the worlds in the prayer. My son. My baby.

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea to the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

That’s where my son is’ that’s where our sons are – on the border of the Lebanon (North) to the desert of Egypt (South), and from the Great Sea (West) to the approach to the Aravah (East), on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

All this we ask; all this we beg.

May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.


There is something grounding about having your son on the border. I look at the people who marched against Trump and I wonder how they would hold up to real adversity – and I don’t mean protesting what a man has done after taking office a day earlier. I push away the anger at the people who are so busy fearing Donald Trump for such absurd reasons.

I ended the Sabbath thinking about the new president in Washington. I have to confess, I just don’t understand. I hated the thought of Obama coming to office and his eight years in Israel fulfilled all that I feared and more. I called him an idiot; I never called him a monster. I didn’t take to the streets to burn cars, smash stores and throw stones and bricks at the police.


I watch as friends in the US post about how scared they are and inside myself I feel the anger. Until you have had a son at war, until your son stands before you and tens of thousands of rockets, I have no patience for what you write. Nothing that is happening in America now is a matter of life and death. Really.



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