So many initiatives exist these days offering support to specific groups in Israel: art kits for wives of soldiers, food and homemade challahs for chayalim, and free plane tickets to Israel sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh for parents of combat soldiers who reside abroad. There’s also support for Anglo mothers of chayalim. As a mother of a combat soldier, I keep my ears open for the much-needed support targeting this group. I’ve attended three such events and have benefited in some way from each of them.

In an early November event in Modiin, Rabbanit Rachelle Sprecher-Fraenkel, the mother of one of the three teens kidnapped and murdered in a terrorist attack in 2014, spoke about the need to view this war in the context of Jewish history. She told the story of David Ben-Gurion, who had asked Yitzhak Tabenkin, one of the founders of the Kibbutz Movement, what he should do regarding the Partition Plan in 1948. Tabenkin said he would consult and then give him an answer. When Tabenkin returned and told Ben-Gurion not to agree to the plan, Ben-Gurion asked him who he had consulted with. Tabenkin answered that he had consulted with his deceased grandfather and his unborn grandson. He had conferred with the past and the present because the decision is part of the chain of Jewish history. Rabbanit Fraenkel said that we need to be aware that we are living through history right now. Knowing that we are part of a greater story gives meaning to the difficulties we are experiencing. This context is crucial for it all to be worth it.

Paula Stern, author of the blog “A Soldier’s Mother,” gave practical tips from her experience of being just that. Michal Epstein led us in anxiety-reducing exercises.

What I found particularly meaningful that evening was the introduction given by Mrs. Zemira Ozarowski, Director of Community Programming at the Orthodox Union. She spoke about the mothers of soldiers mentioned in the Tanach. One example is the mother of Sisera, the commander of the army of the Canaanim, an enemy of the Jewish people, who was defeated in a war by the judges Barak and Devorah. Sisera’s mother cried a hundred cries as she waited for her son to return from battle. The 100 blasts of the shofar that we blow on Rosh HaShanah are based on her 100 cries. Zemira asked: Why would we connect the shofar of Rosh HaShanah to the cries of the mother of our evil enemy? She explained that this connection shows the power of the t’filah of the mother of a chayal. Amazing! That was just what I needed to hear. I spend a lot of time saying T’hilim these days. It’s reassuring to know that I can make a difference.

Last week, mothers of chayalim were invited to a beautiful evening of inspiration, unity, and fun. A woman from the US was looking to contribute to the war effort and brought her babka-baking expertise to Israel. She organized an evening of babka making, words of inspiration, T’hilim, and song.

The table was beautifully set with an array of toppings and fillings from which we could choose for our delicious creations. A list of the names of the children of the women participating in the event was prepared in advance and given out so that we could all daven for all of our children when we did hafrashas challah. We would also make signs to accompany our delicacies. Ezrat Achim, a local chesed organization, would deliver our mini-babkas and signs to chayalim.

Davening together as mothers of chayalim was intense and moving. After a quick demonstration of how to make mini-babkas, we got to work. While we rolled, filled, and twisted our dough, we introduced ourselves to each other.

Every woman stated her name, her child’s role in the army, and anything else she wanted to add. One woman relayed how her son and his fellow soldiers were saved on October 7. He and dozens of soldiers were being transported to southern Israel when an explosive device fired by terrorists hit their helicopter. The pilots managed to land the helicopter, and the soldiers ran out.  The helicopter exploded immediately afterward. It was a miracle. The woman noted that the timing of this incident coincided with the time her shul was dancing hakafos. She is convinced that their t’filah at that hour saved the boys.

One mother talked about her daughter, stationed in one of the kibbutzim in the Gaza Envelope. Baruch Hashem, she had been given leave and was home with her family on Simchas Torah.

While our babkas were baking in the oven, Chanale Fellig-Harrel, a singer, songwriter, and hostess of a twice-a-week podcast, led us in song as she told stories and played her guitar. The singing was somewhat intense and emotional yet uplifting. At that point, the tragic news came in that a soldier from Ramat Beit Shemesh had been killed over Shabbos. Shock. Devastation. Tears. I know there was more on the program for the evening, but that was it for me. What had started as a comforting and strengthening experience had become a nightmare. I went home to my family.

This past Motza’ei Shabbos, a woman in the community hosted a guided discussion for mothers of chayalim to be moderated by Mrs. Chasida Pinchuk, a therapist and expert in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I expected to sit around a table on which there would be a bottle of water and cups. But the hostess indulged us with a pampering buffet. I felt coddled and cared for.

Once again, the women introduced themselves and shared where the situation touches them. While every woman has her own vantage point and personal experience, I could relate to many of the feelings expressed. The sharing and camaraderie provided the validation I needed. There was some discussion about whether to do this again. I’m all in.

Please continue to daven for the recovery of the sick, the release of the rest of the hostages, and the safe return of all the chayalim and security forces.

Suzie Steinberg, (nee Schapiro), CSW, is a native of Kew Gardens Hills and resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh who publishes articles regularly in various newspapers and magazines about life in general, and about life in Israel in particular. Her recently published children’s book titled Hashem is Always With Me can be purchased in local Judaica stores as well as online. Suzie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and would love to hear from you.