November 30, 2023

Rabbanit Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel, a mother who endured the tragic kidnapping and later loss of her own son, Naftali Fraenkel, in a kidnapping by Hamas, commended immigrant mothers who have recently made aliyah for their remarkable courage in sending their children to face an existential war. In an event held in collaboration with the Kehillat Shaarei Yonah Menachem synagogue in Modi’in, the Orthodox Union (OU) Israel honored immigrant mothers from North America and England, whose children are currently serving in Operation Swords of Iron. These mothers, some of whom have only just embarked on their journey of making aliyah to Israel, found themselves navigating the daunting reality of sending their children into a conflict of historic proportions. Fraenkel, who has faced the unimaginable pain of losing her son in the past, expressed her deep admiration for these mothers’ sacrifices and the moral strength they exhibit: “It makes me very emotional to look at all of you. Some of you only arrived in Israel three weeks ago. Unlike Israeli mothers who have gone through this process over the course of many years, you have landed directly into the most complex and stressful reality Israel can face: not only are our children being called up to serve in the IDF, but you are actually sending them to a war of our very existence.” “I personally admire you. The greatest gift I received from my parents was the right to grow up and raise my children in Israel, and I don’t know if I would have had the strength to take this step myself. It is the moral and religious clarity, and the historical context, that gives us the strength to meet the challenges,” she said. Paula Stern, renowned for her blog “Mother of a Soldier” and a Facebook group supporting parents of English-speaking IDF soldiers, provided practical advice to parents, emphasizing trust in the army’s expertise and effective communication with their children serving in the military. Leah Goldstein, an immigrant mother originally from England with a son serving in Gaza and a daughter in the reserves, expressed her gratitude for the event’s speakers and their practical insights: “Thank you for the practical tools to help me deal with these moments when the ground feels like it is shaking beneath me. I plan to carry these tips with me over the next few months.” Rabbanit Zemira Ozarowski, Director of Women’s Programming at OU Israel, praised these mothers for instilling a deep love for Israel in their children and acknowledged their indispensable role in shaping the dedication and courage of the soldiers: “Your sons and daughters are our heroes, going out there and doing everything in their power to protect the Jewish people, but this ability to serve our nation in such a way comes from you.”