Along with thousands of others from their brigade, my sons had been back home from their service in and around Gaza for about two months. And though the war is never far from anyone’s minds, many families’ lives were beginning to reclaim their familiar rhythms. Mothers, who had to also serve as fathers, could turn to their partners once again to assist in the day-to-day routines of their homes. Fathers, many of whom had been sleeping in their uniforms and boots, with their rifles at their sides, could breathe once again, and not jump at the sound of a broken twig or a creaky stair. 

Couples could smile, and laugh, and embrace.

But, as we know, the job is not done. Victory over Hamas has not occurred. Not yet. The government says that the goals remain intact, yet the pace of the war — from this admittedly outside, uninformed view — seems to had ground almost to a halt. 

Another few terrorists killed. 

Another few tunnels discovered and destroyed. 

Another of our boys to be accorded a hero’s burial.

But the monsters in Rafah, cruelly holding those who still remain of our brothers and sisters in captivity, have had months to fortify their positions, lay traps against our forces, and plan for battle. Rather than catching the enemy off-guard, we now face the prospect of attacking those who know very well that we are coming for them. They are waiting for us.

No matter. 

In this war, time and time again, thank G-d our forces have for the most part overwhelmed and outsmarted the terrorists, and found ways to render their ambushes impotent and their traps ineffective. 

With G-d’s help we will do it again. 

Almost since our sons’ release, rumors have circulated about their return to duty. One of these rumors had them coming back to their bases this summer. Another, maybe later. But wars are fickle things, and as many have noted, even the best plans are thrown out the window once the first shot is fired. 

So although it was no surprise, it was still a shock when they got the call right before Pesach to show up for duty only a few days later, during the holiday.

It’s not the kind of news that you can really prepare for, although several days notice is a lifetime compared the frenetic call-ups of October 7th. 

You have to suck it up, organize your gear, and show up for duty. The men and the women. The front lines and the Homefront.

No one gets to choose their role. In our lives, as parents and in-laws of soldiers, our job is to support. We do our best to help whenever and however we can. Whether that’s cooking, watching the kids, or ferrying our sons to their bases after some time off, within the limits of our strength, we try to be there as needed. Our duties don’t entail a uniform, but we are proud to serve in what limited capacity we are able. 

We’ve all done this before. The mothers will again assume their dual responsibilities. The fathers will check their emotions at the door, don their warrior personas, and do battle for the future of our people. We parents will worry, lose sleep, hug our children fiercely as they leave, pray for the wellbeing of all of our forces, and do what we can in the background.

It’s an encore we have awaited.

It’s an encore we have dreaded. 

It’s an encore we hope and pray will lead to complete victory.

In every single sense of the word.

P.S. This was written a week or two ago. In the end, though both of our sons’ returns were temporarily deferred, their units are active, and the war has come to Rafah. The sentiments above remain exactly the same.