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Hey, I know him....

By Paula Stern
8/8/2009, 12:00 AM
Sometimes, I can be very silly and embarrass my children. I've done this before and will likely do it again. I remember clearly times when my mother embarrassed me ("this is my daughter. She's 14 going on 40" was one example). I doubt there is a parent alive who hasn't, with the best of intentions, accidentally caused their child to squirm in front of their friends.

When they are lucky, they don't find out about it. Those are the best of cases - and a most likely circumstance when you have a son in the army. There was the time I walked over to a soldier at a rest point on the highway going north and began talking to him - only because he had a turquoise beret like Elie's. I did the same thing to another soldier at an engagement party - only he actually knew Elie and we had a nice conversation about where Elie had spent the war (near Gaza) as opposed to where he spent the war (in the Golan).

There was the time I told the soldiers sitting at the checkpoint that I was Elie's mother and I was bringing him hamburgers; and the time I told the soldiers that I was Elie's mother, so it was okay for them to eat the pastries I was handing them.

A few years ago, we opened a Training Center in Jerusalem, there to offer courses on technical writing, marketing writing, QA Software Testing, Translation, and so much more. Elie was "in" on helping us set up a lot of the workstations. He worked for hours to build desks, put together chairs and cabinets and computers. The one thing we didn't do at the time, was set up an Internet connection on each workstation. We rationalized that people would be distracted, check their email, play games, and so we didn't run the wiring.

Our "neighbors" in the building teach people how to play an online game. I don't understand the mechanics of it, but they give sessions to teach people how it works. The only thing is, only the teacher has a computer most of the time. So, at some point they came over and asked if they could run a few sessions here in our computer center. We agreed in principle and all was well...and then a few days ago, they came over and asked if they could have the sessions "tonight."

I explained that I didn't have Internet access, which was critical. I said we could have...but we don't. So they sent over one of their computer people and we began figuring out how we could run wires and connect as many workstations as we could. We actually did quite well and got 14 stations up and running and connected.

As we finished each one, I clicked the browser icon and navigated to www.cnn.com to test if we were really online. It seemed simple enough. Honestly, I'm not a great fan of CNN, but you can rarely find a shorter URL address. At one point, the computer expert sat down and started to type in www.cnn.com, explaining that he would use my chosen website.

I said, "well, if you want my choice, go to my blog." I opened the browser, typed in the address and a second later, the blog, with Elie's picture, opened up.

"Hey, I know him," he said to me.

"Artillery," I said and was amazed to hear him mention Elie's brigade number and division.

"You really do know him. How?"

"I taught him how to shoot," he said.

"Shoot?"

"Yes, I was his instructor during basic training for shooting."

No, heYitzchak (the computer expert) doesn't remember how well Elie did or much about him other than his face, his group - but it was still a wonderful feeling to connect with someone who knew Elie in that world he goes to when he leaves home.

It also proves, yet again, what an incredibly small country this is, how interconnected.