British mothers battle stress of having children in IDF

Founders: (from left) Michelle Sint, Linda Lester and Camille Compton

Founders: (from left) Michelle Sint, Linda Lester and Camille Compton

Twenty-one British mothers have banded together to help each other cope with the stresses of having children who serve in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) .

Camille Compton, former Emunah charity chair, co-founded Mahal Mums after her 19-year-old son, Max, volunteered for the IDF after leaving Immanuel College last summer.

“I’m a mum — of course I worry,” she said. “Our children are exposed to dangerous situations, even when they’re just training, and we don’t always know how to get in touch with them.”

Mrs Compton, whose son is serving with the “hardcore” Givati Brigade, said the lack of news parents received about their children was particularly frustrating.

She said: “There are lots of families in the UK that have children in the IDF but there is little information available. In the group, we can talk to each other and understand what we’re all going through.”

She founded the group with Michelle Sint and Linda Lester, whose sons David and Aaron have also volunteered for 20 month service. The mothers have created a website that provides parents with much-needed practical advice and details, ranging from lists of equipment needed by military personnel to prayers recited for IDF soldiers.

Mrs Compton, a member of the Yeshurun Federation Synagogue in Edgware, said that Max decided to enlist in the Israeli army after a visit to concentration camps in Poland with his school reinforced his Zionism. His swearing-in ceremony at the Kotel in Jerusalem was “an extremely emotional and proud experience”, she said.

According to an IDF spokesman, there are more than 100 young British Jews serving in the IDF as “lone soldiers”, with no family in Israel.

Mahal Mums is investigating ways of providing support to these troops. “Unlike the majority of soldiers, they do not have homes of their own to go to during their leave,” Mrs Compton said.

The group is also considering lobbying against critics of Israel, such as Baroness Tonge, who have accused IDF soldiers of war crimes.

Fathers joined a meeting of Mahal Mums for the first time this week. “We may need a name change,” Mrs Compton said.

    Last updated: 9:45am, March 7 2014