‘Lighting Up Hearts’: A Memorable Wartime Chanukah Celebration on IDF Base

‘Lighting Up Hearts’: A Memorable Wartime Chanukah Celebration on IDF Base
uwi idf party

United with Israel has been organizing Chanukah parties on IDF bases since 2011, and this year’s celebration was undoubtedly among the best ever.

On the magical evening of December 11, 2023, the fifth night of Chanukah, a heartwarming and meaningful celebration unfolded on the grounds of the Pikud Mercaz military base in northern Jerusalem.

Sponsored by United with Israel (UWI), this event was created to express profound appreciation for the courageous Israeli soldiers who risk their lives daily to protect not only their homeland but Jews worldwide. It was a night filled with unity, gratitude, and the joyous spirit of Chanukah.

Pikud Mercaz, primarily known for its role in army intelligence and communications, became the backdrop for an extraordinary evening.

Two busloads of visitors, approximately 120 people, mainly Americans who emigrated to Israel, arrived at the base to join hundreds of Israeli soldiers in a display of solidarity and appreciation.

This year’s Chanukah celebration held special significance as Israel is in the middle of its war with Hamas, following the October 7th invasion and massacre killing over 1200 innocent Israelis and sending 240 into captivity. Over 115 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the IDF entered Gaza several weeks ago.

Against this backdrop, the Chanukah event took on added meaning as a testament to resilience and unity in the face of adversity.

The centerpiece of the evening was the lighting of a special menorah crafted from actual Hamas rockets, symbolizing the strength of the Israeli people in the face of adversity.

This poignant gesture resonated deeply with those present, reminding them of the challenges Israel faces and the strength required to overcome them.

The event featured inspiring speeches by the base commander, who spoke about the soldiers’ dedication and sacrifices, and by Michael Gerbitz, the founder of UWI.

Gerbitz expressed his gratitude to the soldiers and emphasized the importance of supporting those who protect Israel. He noted how both miracles of Chanukah – the military victory over the Greeks and the oil burning for 8 days – came together this evening as Israel’s modern day Maccabees light the menorah in the midst of a war.

The celebration also included a lavish barbecue, offering a delightful spread of various meats, salads, and the beloved sufganiyot (jelly donuts) that are a Chanukah staple. The tantalizing aroma of grilled delicacies wafted through the air, setting the stage for a festive evening.

A DJ kept the energy high throughout the night, and an amazing show featuring a magician who doubled as a mentalist dazzled the crowd with mind-bending tricks.

The soldiers had their own share of excitement with games and contests, including the “color war” to determine which division could create the most creative menorah. Laughter and camaraderie filled the air as soldiers and visitors joined in the fun.

One of the most touching moments of the evening was when the visitors expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the soldiers. The bond between the soldiers and the community was palpable, a testament to the unity celebrating Chanukah creates among Jews everywhere.

Gerbitz presented essential supplies to the base, demonstrating UWI’s commitment to supporting the IDF in practical ways.

Among the highlights of the event was a private tour of the intelligence operations for a select group of visitors, where they witnessed firsthand how Israel tracks the movements of suspicious individuals via a network of security cameras throughout the country.

The importance of this work in maintaining national security was evident, and the visitors left with a profound appreciation for the soldiers’ dedication and expertise.

The climax of the evening arrived when visitors and soldiers took to the dance floor together. In a joyous display of unity and celebration, they danced the night away, forging connections and memories that would last a lifetime.

United with Israel has been organizing Chanukah parties on IDF bases since 2011, and this year’s celebration was undoubtedly among the best ever.

UWI’s sponsorship was made possible by donors from around the world who love Israel and hold its soldiers in high esteem. Heartfelt personal notes sent by these donors from various countries were read aloud, emphasizing the global support for the IDF and the enduring bond between Israel and Jewish communities worldwide.

This year’s event beautiful and meaningful celebration that touched the hearts of all those in attendance, and served as a powerful reminder of the unwavering support for Israeli soldiers who dedicate their lives to protecting the our homeland.

United with Israel’s sponsorship and the generosity of donors worldwide made this event a resounding success, demonstrating the strength of the global Jewish community and its commitment to Israel’s well-being.

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The post ‘Lighting Up Hearts’: A Memorable Wartime Chanukah Celebration on IDF Base first appeared on United with Israel.
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