WYCKOFF, N.J. (WPIX) – A New Jersey mother is anxiously waiting for her son to come home as he serves in the Israel Defense Forces.

“There’s so many feelings all at once,” Nancy Dubin explained to Nexstar’s WPIX. “I am proud of him, I am so proud of this kid. You can be proud of somebody and still feel abject terror at the same time, right?”

Dubin describes the feeling as an out-of-body experience. Her son, a 20-year-old infantryman in the IDF, is fighting for his country amid war and turmoil. After Ari Dubin graduated from high school in New York City a few years ago, he moved to Israel to serve in the nation’s army.

“Something in his kishkas (gut) told him that he wanted a true Israeli experience,” said Nancy, who recently became a cantor at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, where she also serves as a teacher at its religious school.

Since the attacks in Gaza and Israel that began on Saturday, her worry for her son has ratcheted up, and she has no way of contacting him. But in an audio message that got to her by way of numerous people, Ari reassured his family he was safe.

Nancy Dubin and her son Ari Dubin, who is serving in the Israel Defense Forces during the country’s war with Hamas following a terror attack on Oct. 7, 2023. (credit: Family handouts)

“We’re okay … we’re actually not doing anything too dangerous, we’re going to be okay,” the message, which she played for WPIX, said in part. “Just please let my mom know I’m alive and that I have 10 toes and 10 fingers and that everything’s OK.”

“I am so relieved,” Nancy said. “I am so relieved, and part of me is like, ‘Stop! Just come home and be safe!’ and another part of me, ‘I’m so proud of him.'”

Nancy said she has received prayers from all faiths for her son’s safe return, amongst other prayers for an end to the war.

“If we could ever get to a peaceful solution, that would be the answer to my prayer, my bigger prayers,” said Nancy. “But I also have smaller prayers too, and they’re just to keep my kids safe.”