You really never know what to expect here in Israel

We were walking up the hill from Shul on Shabbat near my son’s home. It’s a formidable hill for those not in top shape, and breaks can be welcome from time to time. 

So when my son stopped to warmly greet an adorable, 30-ish couple, I was happy to have an excuse to catch a breath. I recognized the husband from around the neighborhood. The couple smiled broadly as everyone schmoozed, him with his rifle slung behind his back like so many others who are off-duty, yet always on-call. 

Frankly, given the husband’s political leanings, I might have been surprised that he and my son were friends. Let’s just say that the husband is outspoken…in an over-the-top, in-your-face, my-way-or-the-highway kind of Israeli way. 

But if misery makes for strange bedfellows, war takes it further, nimbly traversing yawning social divides. The unity which was the immediate byproduct of October 7th made previous political and social stands irrelevant. Rightist was in the figurative foxhole with Leftist, religious with secular. The words “יחד ננצח — together we will win,” were a heartwarming, heartfelt rally cry, not just a hollow war slogan. 

The scene and the conversation on the street could easily have played out anywhere in Israel:

“It must be good to have everyone at home for a while.”

“We’re trying to get back to a normal routine.”

“How long until you go back in?”

A few minutes passed, the conversation concluded, and we began lumbering back up the hill. 

I was curious to hear the backstory. “How long was he in?”, I asked my son. 

“It’s not him,” he replied. 

“It’s her.”

“She’s in intelligence, and her specialty is Iran. When things heated up recently, she was gone from home for some very intense weeks. Rumor has it that she slept at her desk.”

No matter how many times I’ve learned the lesson of not judging books — or people — by their covers, it seems that lesson always needs to be re-learned. The hims and the hers in the IDF are all doing their part. Our heroes come in all skin shades, in all ages, and speaking with every type of accent.

Together. Truly together.

.ביחד ננצח