Please note: These journal entries were translated from Hebrew to English using ChatGPT.
Oct. 14, 2023
Shabbat has ended and we returned to the base after a day of rest at home. We arrived in the late afternoon; it was quiet in our responsibility zone. We met the team that was in the place we relieved, performed a well-organized “passing of the torch,” and released them to go home for some relaxation.
The base is full of regular people and reservists of all kinds, all types, and all colors, with Israel in their hearts.
We are a team of four: a chemistry professor who made aliyah to Israel from Denmark at the age of 25; a single Jerusalemite wearing a kippah; a young man from Ashkelon who left his wife and young daughter at home; and me, an “old-timer” who constantly debates whether I still need to be in the reserves but keeps convincing myself that I will help safeguard the homeland.
The hours passed, and the Saturday evening meal was served late due to the wait for Shabbat to end, so we decided to treat ourselves to a meal outside the base. We were looking for a kosher option that would also suit the observant Jerusalemite.
We found a few suitable restaurants in Afula and set out on our way, not entirely sure if any of them would be open. We arrived late in the evening at Afula’s commercial area. The streets were quite empty, and the businesses were closed.
However, we didn’t give up, and in the end, we settled for a local pizzeria we found while searching. We stopped and entered the pizzeria. Inside, there were two people—a man, friendly, who was in charge of the cash register and the oven, and a woman, who looked pleasant with a chef’s hat on her head, in charge of the dough and the cheese.
We ordered two large pizzas with toppings (not really important what, we just made sure there was no tuna on the Jerusalemite’s pizza since he declared his aversion to fish…), and we sat outside to wait for the pizzas.
After just 7 minutes (I timed it like an army commander), the pizzas arrived, and their smell alone was a delight.
We devoured the pizzas like hungry teenagers. The pizzeria was empty of people. Suddenly, someone stopped, got out of their car, and entered the pizzeria. I didn’t pay much attention to their actions at first, but after a few minutes, they came out, leaned toward us, and said, “Take care of yourselves,” and then drove away.
While we were enjoying our pizza, we approached the friendly guy at the cash register to inquire about payment, and he said that the person who had just entered a few moments ago had actually paid for us and left. He hadn’t even ordered a pizza for himself.
We were surprised, and I was a bit irritated at first that someone else had paid for us.
We were ”working” on our pizzas, and then, once again, a car pulled over. Four young girls got out, greeted us with a friendly “hello,” and went into the pizzeria. About a minute later, they came out, nodded in our direction and said, “Yasher Koach,” and continued on their way.
The friendly cashier at the register came out and mentioned that they had offered to pay for us, but, of course, he didn’t accept since he had already received payment.
We finished our pizzas, and I regretted eating the last slice (at my age, we start thinking about the consequences of eating the last slice). We got up to leave. I approached the friendly guy at the cash register and added some more money to what we owed—he also needs to make a living during these tough times.
Half a day in the reserves, half an hour in the pizzeria, and with a giver out of love (but why only in times of need?).
Oct. 15, 2023
Not much was going on—we drank coffee, met people, talked, drank coffee again, checked out on people, ate, and had some more coffee.
One of my team members, the young guy from Ashkelon, left his wife and their 4-year-old daughter at home. We were talking, showing interest, and then he mentioned that his wife was at home alone, and it was a bit challenging for her. I asked if there was anything we could do to help. Perhaps she could travel up north for a while? The young man replied that she preferred to stay in Ashkelon despite the difficult situation, but it was hard for her being alone with the frequent sirens and the bombing. I pressed further and asked if she needed any supplies or anything else. The young man replied that she had everything she needed but maybe a few toys for their daughter to keep her occupied.
I reached into my pocket without them even asking. I sent a few messages and tried to think of whom to reach out to. I called a good friend with many connections who never stops looking for ways to help and lend a hand. I wrote him a simple message, and within 5 seconds, he got back to me, saying he was already on his way to Sderot, where there’s a large collection of donations that had arrived. He loaded up with toys, and I sent him the address in Ashkelon.
Two hours later, two boxes of toys arrived at the home of the young man’s wife in Ashkelon (by the way, his name is Rotem).
Just a little something to bring some joy to humanity.
“There are no words!!!”
It’s well-known that artists participate in wars. They volunteer to boost the spirits of the soldiers. There isn’t always a perfect match between the artist and the preferences of the “audience.” But, generally, soldiers in emergency situations don’t really care about that (and this holds true for other things as well, perhaps, in the future).
So, it turns out that Sara’le Sharon, the leader of the public singing group, and maybe the one who brought her team to the Northern Command Base in Nazareth, where we are currently stationed, arrived in the evening around 7:30. Several vehicles showed up, and seven guys, all aged 75 and above, with musical instruments and sound equipment, settled in the dining hall and started playing—mandolin, piano, accordion, saxophone, clarinet, and a wooden box serving as a Yemenite-style drum.
The harmony wasn’t perfect, the singing had some off-key notes, but the soldiers didn’t really pay attention. The repertoire was 50 years or older, but a few of the younger members of society joined in, even sang a bit. It quickly turned into a karaoke evening and at some point, even into a dance with parents and a Yemenite step.
I even faked some Palmach songs with the microphone. Speaking of the Palmach, Sara’le Sharon introduced her band, and one of the members is a 92-year-old man who fought in the Palmach, a Yemenite who played the drum, a Yemenite tin box-looking drum—he looked like he was 60. He’s actually 92 and fought in the Palmach!
In short, Sara’le Sharon boosted the morale a bit (mainly for the female soldiers who joined in), and I asked if Dudu Aharon would come tomorrow to take the lead. I didn’t get an answer.
Dror Goldman is the son of Moshe Goldman, a member of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Shared Society Committee. He is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces reserves.