Watching My Son Embark Upon Adulthood

By Debbie Groyer, Young Judaea Year Course in Israel Parent

The consumption of a margarita after seeing Noah off at the airport was not frivolous.  Months ago, the idea of his participating in Year Course was proposed by cousins whose sons are alumni of the course.  Noah’s immediate response?   “No way!”   We, his parents and family who knew it would be the best thing for him, employed a psychologically balanced campaign of cajoling and backing off.  Behind the scenes, Noah discussed the proposed adventure with his friends and relatives, eliciting the same response from all… “Do it!”  Eventually he reached his own decision, having arrived at the realization that Year Course would be fun, maturing and, per Noah’s words, “when will I ever have this opportunity again?”

Once the decision was made the logistics were up to me and I hope I am not alone in thinking that “War and Peace” was a short story compared to the Year Course Information Guide.  Perhaps my comprehension of said document was diminished by the emotional nature of the process.  When at last the application and shopping were completed, all of the arrangements made and pertinent documents printed for Noah’s journey, one fervent wish kept repeating in my brain….I hope he doesn’t lose his passport!

After participating in the orientation call, it became apparent that the two major goals of Year Course are the same as the ones we have for Noah; that he will experience significant maturation and that he will reinforce his Jewish identity by becoming an enthusiastic Zionist.    That he will have a great time along the way is a foregone conclusion.  Noah is very sweet and sociable and people flock to him.  Yes, I know I am biased, but I have documents from objective sources attesting to this phenomenon.  They are available upon request.

Barring a potential visit to Israel, it will be nine months before I again see my son in person.  Although there have been times during the last almost 19 years when that might have seemed desirable, it is now a daunting prospect.  I am a mother and, what’s worse, I am a Jewish mother!  So there’s no question that this program will be beneficial for all concerned.  Until technology produces apron strings that span 6864.7 miles, he is officially cut loose and embarking upon his adulthood. The first step in my twelve step program is not to text unless texted to.  We’ll see how that works out.

According to my calculations and with reference to the orientation schedule, the Year Coursers are about to make their way to Bat Yam having experienced the unique and emotional experience of landing at Ben Gurion Airport.  I wonder what Noah is thinking.  I hope that in the coming days, excitement and curiosity trump homesickness for him and all of his soon-to-be friends.

With a pang in my heart I think of the 6,000 plus miles that separate us but I am comforted by the knowledge that Noah is in good hands and that he will have the time of his life.  We are grateful for the opportunity that he has been given to learn the history of Israel and our people at its source.  We hope that in the process of volunteering he has the opportunity to share his love of sports and to experience the joy of benefitting others.  Most of all, we hope that he has a wonderful time and, like others before him, will be reluctant to leave Israel when the program is over.  And, when he returns, I will be waiting with open arms.