The Writing on the Wall
Each year the parents are invited in to see these walls. Each time I go I get a sense of what the kids are thinking about (or at least what their teenage advisors are thinking about).
Last November most of the paintings were colored black or orange, and referred to the destruction of Gush Katif and the hope that we will return there. Some of the more philosophical groups wrote about hope and despair and faith - with quotations from various sources.
This year there was a different feel. The war in Lebanon and in Gaza took precedence. Some groups had collages of religous soldiers painted on the wall. Some used military "accessories" to showcase each kid's name in the group - one group used the "kumta" - the beret, each one with a different child's name. My son's group used dogtags. It certainly was a queasy sight seeing my ten year old's name, with a number that he just made up (at least he didn't put his teudat zehut number, that would have been too much).
Another group painted the following slogan in their space:
"Shalom zeh hazman bein milchama l'milchama" - "Peace is the time between one war and another."
At the same time, though, I found this slogan to be somewhat encouraging. Not because I love war, G-d forbid. The idea of my sons fighting scares me to death.
I found it comforting, though, that although these kids are only teenagers, they understand what it takes to live here in Israel. These are normal, happy adolescents, who worry about pimples and popularity just like others their age the world over. But at the same time they know that living in their homeland takes sacrifice, and they are willing to make it.
If everyone here in Israel saw things this clearly we would all be better off.