The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Friday, June 21, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Reflections from the ground in Israel

Editor’s Note: I have been receiving regular updates from Dov Gelman, a member of our Nashville Jewish community. Dov and his two children, Silas and Alitzah, are all in Israel at this time. Silas and Alitzah are serving in the reserves and Dov is volunteering. This is Dov’s latest missive. 

Barbara, good morning. We just heard an amazing story from our daughter Alitzah serving on the border with her artillery battery. This woman started on the Lebanese border and then moved to support the ground offensive in the south. She has come out of combat a few times this month to do laundry, shower, and resupply. On her last 24hr leave she told the following story. You can use your imagination inside the theater of your mind to place yourself in her sand covered boots.  

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Sometimes it pays off to leave decision making to the universe. 

With the bus driver’s announcement that the bus had an issue, I walked off the bus conveniently across the street from a Superpharm. I walk in and to my left stood four women at the cash register. I go up to them and, with a smile, ask them if I could lighten my load and leave my bag in their care to shop without worrying about knocking everything in each aisle to the ground. Without hesitation they agreed to look after my bag, while not taking their eyes off me.  

Here’s what they saw: a layer of dust on my skin disguised as a tan, dusty hair, a dusty uniform, boots that are far from being black, and a clean gun (a clean gun is a gun that works). 

The woman closest to me looks me up and down and with glistening eyes foreshadowing tears asked me if I came from the shetach. I answered with a tired a smile that was followed up with, “How long have you been there?” I answered, “One month,” and with that, tears slid down her cheeks and she pulled me into a tight hug. 

Side note: have you ever had a conversation with someone and when you think back to what was said you remember not exact words, but the emotion and feelings behind them? That’s what happened after she hugged me. 

I know she asked about my parents. Who I told her were in America and that my brother and I are here as former lone soldiers in reserves. 

With each question and answer, came more compassion and love with each tear shed. And more hugs. The remaining three women listened eagerly and before I knew it, was being handed creams, and little samples of perfume for me and Silas. 

After more words and more hugs, they sent me on my way to get what I needed. 

Along the way, Sarah, the woman who connected with me at once, asked for my name and handed me a bottle of perfume and a bottle of cologne. “This is for you and your brother, and when you smell it, I hope you’ll think of me. And when this is all over, please come by to let me know everything is okay.” With that, I gave her a hug and she went back to place them on my bag. 

Once I got all that I needed, I walked back to the cash register where all the women remained. They gave me a 30% worker’s discount and when I pulled out my credit card to pay, Sarah pushed my hand away and placed hers instead. 

I thanked her and gave her a hug and took her number in case I needed anything. 

All the women wished me well and I went on my way. As I left, I blew them all a kiss through the window and headed for the bus stop.  

There, at the cross walk, I noticed a middle-aged man waiting across the street. He too looked me up and down and with a huge smile spread across his face and arms held wide, yelled, “Now that’s what a female warrior looks like, you are the eyes of the land, all of Israel salutes you.” 

He turned to a man sitting outside of a bakery and resumed his shout, “Look at her boots. Those are the boots of a warrior!” (The desert sand faded my once black boots and left them a dusty beige) 

I blew him a kiss as well and as the light turned green for us to cross, a woman came up next to me. She smiled at me as we walked across together and noted how tired I looked. I smiled back and said it had been a long night and how good the timing was to be home for the day. 

I hope this intimate anecdotal story helps encourage all the work the Jewish Federation and Nashville’s Jewish community are doing. 

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Dov Gelman and his daughter Alitzah who is serving in the reserves in Israel.
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