After a long stint in reserve duty around the Nablus area, I'm finally home. While I'm hoping to write two longer pieces about it soon, here are a few highlights since the last post:
* One of our assignments was to guard a base on Har Gerizim, which overlooks the city of Nablus. The view was absolutely stunning, especially during sunrise and sunset. I only wish I had had a camera with me so that I could share some of the views of the city, her bustling center and Joseph's Tomb.
* One of the lads in the unit writes a Torah scroll once a year. Thanks to him, I accomplished the mitzvah (Hebrew for commandment) of writing a letter in a Torah scroll.
* Despite the fact I support the need for the checkpoints, I struggle with the difficulties they impose on the Palestinian population - be it the canine checks (There is a religious probelm with dogs), or the delays for ID checks. I still do the job - but try to be as respectful and understanding as possible.
* On Wednesday, we had Israeli visitors. Naturally, I feared the worst. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was approached with cake, some cold drinks, a flag and a thank you note. An Israeli group (the name escapes me) goes around the Territories' checkpoints showing solidarity with the soldiers. It's nice to know people can understand and show unity with us - considering the difficulty (for many reasons obviously) of the job at hand.
* A day later, we had a visit from the lovely ladies of Machsom Watch. When we saw them approaching, I went up to them with another soldier and explained to them that they were not to cross a rather visible line, but could stay here and observe what we were doing. As I turned my back to leave, I asked them to just be honest about what the wrote. One of the ladies then responded, "Does the fact you're wearing a kippah and I'm not wearing a mitpachat (Hebrew for a head covering, which ironically she was halachically ok due to her rather funny looking hat!) give you the right to say that?" Before I had a chance to get into a proper conversation with the woman, my friend pulled me away and said good bye. Had I had a chance to respond properly, I would have made a comment about how the group's 'good intentions' (Despite some of the unnecessary agitations they force on both soldiers and Palestinians, I do believe they want to improve the way soldiers handle the checkpoint duty) shouldn't be mingled with hypocritical anti-religious sentiments.
* I got home in the early evening today ... It was lovely to see wife and son. My wife ... well ... she's still the same gal I left behind almost a month ago but my boy ... well ... he's changed quite a bit, and is now waving, kneeling and even standing ... Sheesh, they do grow up fast.