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September 5, 2015 | 21st Elul 5775

Dinner With Friends

March 10, 2002
Marc Rosenstein

The Soldier is home for the weekend. He is an easygoing kid, barely 20. Smart, athletic, charming, always sensitive to the underdog. He has reported a lot of discomfort, over the months, at situations he has found himself in, harassing Palestinians at a checkpoint, listening to some of his buddies’ expressions of enthusiasm for violence, feeling just plain scared to be in danger and under attack. His sympathy for the Palestinians seems to have waned as he has heard their bullets whistling over his head. He has already had to make shivah calls on the families of friends.

We are at Shabbat dinner at the home of friends/neighbors. Their oldest and our oldest are working and studying in the US. Their middle daughter, an instructor teaching tank gunners how to operate their turrets and cannons, did not get leave this week. Ours is home from college for the weekend. Also at the table are their youngest, a 10th grader, and her friend, and The Soldier.

It is a pleasant evening. We talk about a lot of things: Persian cooking, home remodeling, “the situation,” work, the new principal of the high school, a little innocent gossip about the neighbors. Sometimes the table is one conversation; sometimes two parallel conversations are going on at the two ends of the table - “kids” and adults. The Soldier has a lot to tell. His enthusiasm for the army is gone, and the year and a half remaining in his service is looking endless, but there are still interesting and even amusing anecdotes and impressions to report from There.

“Boy, did we have an embarrassing screw-up on Tuesday. Some of us were sitting inside watching TV, when there was a “Thoop!” and then a “Boom” in the distance. So we went outside to look. B. had left a grenade in our grenade launcher and forgotten it; then, somehow, he was showing the launcher to another guy, and pulled the trigger. What a screw-up! What a terrible thing.

“It landed somewhere in the Palestinian village across the valley, of course. We don’t know where. Oh, B. will have a court martial, and so will our officer, but it’s nothing. Nothing will happen to them.”

Fresh fruit salad and chocolate mousse cake for dessert.

Nothing will happen to them.

What has happened to us?


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