After weddings were held in IDF staging areas in both northern and southern Israel, now even circumcisions are taking place in the reserve units where thousands have been called up.
Babies born after the devastating terrorist attack on October 7 have come into a world facing unprecedented challenges for Israel, yet they bring joy and a reason for soldiers to celebrate.
In the staging area of the 23rd Reserve Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade, part of the 91st Division, soldiers celebrated the circumcision of their comrade Barak Farber's newborn son. Just eight days prior, his wife, Shira, had given birth to their fourth son. From the delivery room itself, they knew they wanted to share this special ceremony with Barak's fellow soldiers.
"The war caught us, like all of us, on Shabbat Simchat Torah," Farber says. "We were at home and when we got the phone call, we stood up like everyone else. Despite the fact that my wife was then in the middle of the ninth month of pregnancy, we didn't have an iota of hesitation and it was clear that the people of Israel are above all else and that is our job now."
In another reality, the couple would have celebrated the brit milah with their close family in a more intimate setting, but they felt that this was not the time for that.
"The circumcision of a boy is a very private event, but on the other hand, it is universally Israeli and belongs to everyone. It was clear to us, very early on when this whole campaign began, that the britt would be here - because our heart is here, and this is where the people of Israel need us. Israel needs to be filled with a spirit of bravery and freedom, a spirit of new life, and this brit as far as we are concerned is the gospel. The enemy is trying to take our lives and we, who called our baby Ivri Haim (the Hebrews live), should show him what a real life is, full of joy and light, because that is who we are. This is our people," Farber said.
The chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, was honored as the baby's sandak, or godfather. He blessed the newborn and the group of sweaty warriors who gathered around him, and explained that "our sages said that the blood of the covenant has the power to atone for the blood of disaster and bloodshed, the blood of debilitating and collapsing pain. We are happy to hear the pain of creation, the pain of birth, of life."
Behind the production of the event and the recruitment of the group that worked on it is Yochai Ezra, a resident of the city of Safed and head of the One Front movement established to help the fighting forces in the Gaza campaign. Early in the morning, he showed up with dozens of volunteers and they prepared a festive meal. Every day, One Front volunteers take out over 1,000 of hot food to the troops in the field and distribute equipment purchased with donations.