Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Next Soldier? (Obsessing over Options)

 Prolog:  In Israel, the draft is mandatory. So sure enough, Ricki received her draft notice about half a year ago, and I took it to her school. The girls in her school routinely receive a deferment, not because of their disability, as you might expect. They receive an exemption because they are religious girls who feel that the atmosphere of the army is not suitable for them. (I do not in any way mean to degenerate here the girls who do serve; they do a lot of good work in the army or in national service.) However, last summer when the school arranged the exemptions, Ricki was in the hospital ICU with pneumonia, so her claim was not processed. I asked about it at the start of the school year, and I was under the impression that it would be taken care of with the “next group” of students. Well, that didn’t happen, and a week ago I received notice that Ricki has to show up at the induction center this Thursday, or face the consequences. And my sons in the army informed me that the “consequences” by this point could be the police coming to our house and taking Ricki by force. And they further informed me that if the police DID come, they would act, golem-like (ie, without reasoning), despite the obvious fact that she has Down syndrome, and is thus eligible for a medical exemption. (I mean, the army DOESN’T want her….****)
The Post:
    I am sure that all of you can relate to this: You have a problem, one that may even not be that big, and there are a few different ways to resolve it. But each way has its drawbacks, often related to the actions or good-will of 3rd parties, which we may not fully be able to predict. The result? One can spend a day or two (or more) consumed in the grip of having to decide how to act, which action to choose. The preoccupation with this problem causes stress, which can be very draining, even on a physical level.
   This morning at 11AM I went for my regular 60-70 minute aerobic walk, knowing that I would need to get it in quickly, before the predicted rainfall would hit at noon or thereafter. I had been obsessing all morning about what would be the most expedient way to resolve the army problem. [Do I go through the channels of getting her an exemption due to her being religious, or should I just shlepp her to the induction center on Thursday, and let the army see for themselves that she is not exactly what “Uncle Sam  Israel” is looking for?] Compounding this is my need on a as-yet-to-be- determined-day this week to hopefully attend the circumcision of my new grandson.* (The circumcision was postponed for health reasons, and we will have only 12-24 hours warning in advance as to when it will be held.) Also a strike is looming, which may effect an office needed to receive the religious exemption, but when I phoned and asked if they would be part of the strike, the incompetent person who answered could not answer the question. And a query I wanted to ask the army got unanswered because their information phone is automated, and you can not reach a real live person.** Things just were not progressing....
    The end result of all this thinking was that after half an hour of walking, I was ready to call it quits. I was drained.... In the end I finished the walk only by reminding myself of my favorite line: “There will come a day that you can’t do this anymore. Today is NOT that day!”
  In reality, I needed to do (and did do, to a certain extent), what needs to be done when one is under stress from the need to make a choice.  I reminded myself that I can make my decision as things progress, I don’t need to make a irrevocable plan right away. I also reminded myself that in the scheme of life, this really is a very small matter to get worked up about……
    So I worked both fronts, reminding myself that the likelihood of them dragging Ricki away before her papers get processed is really NOT likely. (The army doesn’t act that fast in these cases.***)   In the end, a 3rd party who I needed cooperation from to get the religious deferment could not do so, but I was referred to someone else, who acted decisively, promptly, and with good manners. That, coupled with the likelihood of the circumcision being on Thursday will have me running to the court on Wednesday to finalize the religious exemption. (That is, if they are not on strike……)

* Yes, thank-you for your congratulations!
** I HATE it when you can not reach a person on an information line. Yes, many times the automated line is enough, but often there are questions that arise which they do NOT answer, and the automated line is USELESS and downright frustrating!
*** If some robot-like “golem” police officers did arrive, she would probably create quite a scene, to put it mildly. They would need at least four people to get her out the door….
**** Actually, the Israeli army, to it's credit, does have an excellent set-up whereby young men with intellectual disabilities are allowed to voluntarily serve in a special program, doing jobs that their talents suit them for.

Epilogue: On Wednesday I took her papers to the induction center, without the needed stamp (because the court clerks WERE striking), and very quickly (and in a friendly manner) the lady soldier there took care of the entire matter. I KNEW that there wasn't REALLY a problem, so why did I obsess about it........?


sara g said...

Mazal tov on the new grandson!

Alan said...

I cannot imagine that the Army would NEVER be able to find a suitable job for your daughter. She graduated high school somewhere? She speaks Hebrew fluently?

I also don't buy the narrative that keeping modest girls out of the Army is a good way to do Tikkun Olam on to the Army.

My suspicion is that you don't trust that your worldview-as-transmitted-to-the-kid, can stand up face-to-face with other realities that your daughter would meet. You're a scaredy-cat.

You turned your now-adult daughter into a child again: "because I'm the mommy, that's why!"

Look, you can't have it both ways. You can't run around saying (as Mr EsserAgaroth likes to do) that Army girls dress like zonot; and then claim that it's not your job to set a fashion example for Army girls.

If you claim to be the leadership vanguard of the Jewish people, you can't be picky about who you're going to lead.

If you don't make that claim, then get out of my way while I lead the campaign to cut off y'alls subsidies.

the next step will be to give those Filipinit kids who DO SERVE IN THE ARMY, that money we took away from you!!

Looking at the pages of history, I gamble that y'all will end up in the same dusty footnotes as Shabtai Zvi.

rickismom said...

Mr. Alan,
I must say that I suspect you have a lot of anger and pre-made assumptions here. May I point out that:
My husband worked for a living (until he retired). I worked as a nurse in a mental hospital, and with elderly patients. We worked to make our living. The subsidies we receive are similar to tax breaks given by any normal country for children and those with special needs.
I have 2 sons who serve(d) in the army. (In Oketz and on the Hermon)
Oh, and did you read enough of my side bar (or read my post itself carefully enough) to understand that my daughter is mentally retarded? I am pretty sure that you didn't.
Yes, I am scared that if my very impressionable daughter went to a place where religious moral standards are not kept, she would be influenced, because she does not have the mental reasoning to understand that what others do may not be correct. ESPECIALLY since I refrain from critizing those who are not as religious as I am.
I would like to add:
I made no objections to my younger sons to serve in the army (even though I realized that they would probably become less religious as a result), because since they were not doing their part in protecting the land spiritually with consistent, full time study, they had a moral obligation to serve. I felt that I could not impose my world-view on them.

By the way, if anyone is a scardey cat, YOU are! On clicking your name one reaches a page with NO WAY to contact you. You don't give me a chance to answer you except here.
I personally think that you owe me an apology.