Called up to active service – “Order 8”

We all have a part to play.

By Anat Schneider | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Israeli reservists pack up and head off to their units in compliance with "Order 8." Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90
Israeli reservists pack up and head off to their units in compliance with "Order 8." Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90

In Hebrew “Order 8” is an order sent to IDF reservists during an emergency telling them they are to report immediately to their base for deployment.

On Saturday, October 7, 2023, hundreds of thousands of Israelis received such a summons, and the army began to organize for war.

I don’t like this word “Order 8.” It stresses me out and takes me completely out of my peace. I have never received such a military order. In my time, women who had served their mandatory duty at age 18, were afterward nearly all exempt from reserve duty. Mostly, we mothers and grandmothers, and any woman in general who is not combat-trained or needed in an urgent military support role, stays home, and is free to constantly stress and worry.

This time, unlike other times, I feel that I, too, was recruited by “Order 8.” The base where I serve is my very own home in my village in the Judean Hills.

And my role is to act as a mother to Eden. Her husband and brothers have all been called up to IDF reserve duty, and she was left alone with me and her one-year-old baby and with all the fears that this situation aroused in her.

Grandma and Michaela.

At the same time, I was recruited to act as a grandmother to our very same one-year-old baby granddaughter Michaela. She does not understand what is happening around her, yet she feels the pressure keenly. She knows she is not at home, and that her father is not with her. And it puts her in a cranky mood. She hardly sleeps either day or night, and demands that we carry her in our arms.

In the early days it was not easy. I even resisted. I felt that I did not have the necessary strength to take care of a baby this intensely. My back had excruciating pain. At night I couldn’t fall asleep because of worries and thoughts, and during the day it was hard for me to function. Such a situation takes a person out of his or her equanimity. And that’s what happened to me.

After a week it reached a peak where we had an emotional explosion. After the outburst, I sat down and reconsidered the situation. I calmed myself down with slow breaths. And I really had a heart-to-heart conversation with myself – the kind of conversation that allows you to fuse both logic and emotion.

After that I felt more relaxed and realized that my role for most of my life has been to be the responsible adult. In front of my children, in front of my extended family, in front of my friends, and believe it or not in front of my parents as well. And at that moment I made a brave decision: to treat the current situation, as if I too had been drafted by “Order 8,” and had no choice but to function.

Amazingly, once I realized this and accepted it, daily life became easier. I am suddenly much more patient and attentive. I started to get ideas of things to do with the baby. I found myself capable of devoting much more time to her. I now go on long walks with her in the stroller. We enjoy nature and the early Autumn air.

The truth is that all of this turned out for the best, because now when I get to bed, I simply crash on the pillow due to fatigue and manage to fall asleep for a good 4 hours, until the worries wake me up. In the morning I give thanks that the night is over and there is light again, and I give thanks that there are people around me that I can hug.