By Katie Fallon
As families across the country deal with loved ones’ wartime deployment, one local nine-year old recently encouraged her classmates to help brighten the Rosh Hashanah holiday for her father and his fellow Jewish soldiers.
Adele Stolovitz, a student at Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Sandy Springs, is lucky because she gets to talk to her father Gary nearly every day via telephone, video phone or email. An anesthesiologist in the Army Reserves, Stolovitz is stationed at Al Asad Airbase in the Al Anbar Province of western Iraq.
Adele, however, decided she wanted her dad to have something more tangible to keep him connected to his family at home. To achieve that, she enlisted her classmates in Davida Merlis Graber’s fourth grade Hebrew class at Greenfield to send cards to her father and other Jewish soldiers during last month’s celebration of the Jewish New Year. Now, the class sends greetings to American soldiers in Iraq and Cuba, as well as to Israeli soldiers.
Adele said her classmates were enthusiastic to participate because they knew her dad, knew that he was in the Army and that he had been sent overseas.
“They liked the idea,” she said. “They felt happy, yet sad because my dad was leaving. Our school is very happy people are going to help the Iraqis.”
Adele said he teacher turned the card-making sessions into a class project during Hebrew class. The students have now expanded their efforts beyond the holiday cards for her father.
Adele’s mother Judy said her family is lucky because Stolovitz will only be gone for about four months and is scheduled to return home shortly after Thanksgiving. She said her husband, 44, has only been in the Reserves for about a year and a half and thought about enlisting in the recent years following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
“He was profoundly affected by 9/11 and wanted to do something,” Stolovitz said. “This is very meaningful for him.”
With the support of his colleagues at Piedmont Hospital, Stolovitz said her husband has been lucky that he is in the position to do what he can for troops and wounded Iraqis.
So far, she said her children, who also include a 6-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, have dealt well with their father’s absence in strides.
“The kids miss him, but they’re older now,” Stolovitz said. “They have their routine. It’s not so bad. We talk every day. It’s wonderful.”
In fact, because her husband is a doctor and thus on call when he is home, the family sometimes thinks of his absence as an extended work day at the hospital.
The mother of three said the family feels privileged to only have to say goodbye to their loved one for a few months before he returns home.
“We think about all the people who go for more than a year at a time,” she said.
Knowing her daughter, Stolovitz said she was not at all surprised when she learned about the holiday project Adele had in store for her father.
“I was proud of her,” she said. “She’s always thinking of these little thoughtful things. I’m happy for the school to be able to help this part of the community.”