Daily Israel Report

Giving Soldiers the Will to Succeed

Mother of fallen soldier travels the country inspiring soldiers to excellence.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/14/2012, 9:24 AM

Benaya Rein
Benaya Rein
Israel news photo: courtesy of the family

Just days after Hagit Rein’s son Benaya was killed in the Second Lebanon War, she signed papers allowing her surviving sons to enlist in combat units despite the risk. “I told them that of course I would sign for them, going to the army is a privilege, not an chore,” she recalled, speaking to Arutz Sheva.

That attitude has stayed with Rein. Not only has she seen her own sons serve in elite units, but she travels the country inspiring other soldiers to excellence as well.

“I try to give them the spirit,” she said. “Without the will, no technology will help.”

Her travels most recently took her to the border with Gaza. “I met with those who defend the country with their bodies, and are there for the holiday,” she said. “I gave them honey cakes that I had baked and told them these were cakes from Benaya.”

The conversations with soldiers “take a lot out of me, but also fulfill me,” she said. “Many have told me that my stories about Benaya were what led them to enlist in an officers course,” she added.

Hagit Rein teaches her sons not only to serve in the military, but to learn Torah as well, all without bitterness toward those who do not do the same. “This year there was the ‘Suckers’ protest’ and all sorts of talk about sharing the burden,” she recalled. “I’m proud to be a ‘sucker’ mother.”

Her attitude was inherited from her parents, Holocaust survivors who came to Israel with nothing and raised a family of nine children, she said. They chose to have a large family despite economic hardship, because “my father said it was the best response to Hitler,” she explained.

Rein has a message for soldiers’ parents as well. “We need to understand that soldiers can die for the country,” she said.

That message is sometimes missing, she said, pointing to the coverage of Gilad Shalit’s captivity as an example. “I’m not afraid to say that what happened there wasn’t right. I’m happy he’s home, but Gilad Shalit is not ‘everyone’s son,’ he’s ‘everyone’s soldier,’” she declared. “Every mother needs to know that during the three years her son is in the army, or more than three if he becomes an officer, he is everyone’s soldier and he might not come back, or might be wounded.”