Traditionally, the holiday of Passover is the most family-oriented time on the Jewish calendar. However, for the more than 6,900 lone soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who do not have family in Israel, who are orphans or estranged from their Israeli families, Passover can be a challenging time.
Therefore, Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, the only Israeli government sanctioned organization tasked with ensuring soldier welfare, is providing lone soldiers with special holiday gifts and festive Passover seder meals. Passover runs from March 30 to April 7 this year.
Twenty-year-old Daniel B. (name withheld for security reasons), moved to Israel by himself two-and-a-half years ago. He has been serving in the IDF for a little over a year.
“Following the Fogel family massacre in 2011 where five family members – father, mother and three young children – were murdered in their beds by a Palestinian terrorist, I became impassioned to join the IDF,” Daniel told Breaking Israel News. “It was shocking to see the coffin of a baby. I felt that I needed to get my priorities straight and protect Israel so that something like this never happens again.”
However, Daniel explained that it is no easy task to be away from family, especially around Passover.
“Lone combat soldiers are given a place to live,” said Daniel. “But sometimes, we are only there for 24 hours to rest after long, active duty. We don’t have time to prepare properly for Passover. Israeli-born soldiers go home to their families, who have everything ready for them. People don’t really understand how challenging it is to be away from family, especially for Passover.”
Passover is a week-long holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ miraculous exodus from ancient Egypt following 210 years of enslavement in order to become the nation of Israel. Preparation for the holiday includes thoroughly cleaning one’s home of baked flour goods and only eating specially prepared Passover foods, such as matzah and other foods that conform to the holiday’s strict dietary restrictions. All this takes time and is costly, a reality which IDF soldiers cannot meet.
That’s where Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers steps in.
“Yahad has been intensely preparing for Passover to ensure that every soldier, especially lone and poor soldiers, have what they need,” said Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. “This includes sponsoring festive, ritual-filled Passover meals [called seders] and gifting lone and needy soldiers with special treats, including a comfortable blanket and prepaid shopping cards.”
One of last-year’s sponsored joint seders for lone soldiers had 480 attendees. Yahad will once again sponsor this special event where lone soldiers gather to praise God for the miracles He performed for the Jewish nation thousands of years ago as well as the miracle of the State of Israel and the honor of serving in its army.
There will be a festive pre-holiday event attended by IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot and other important dignitaries who will personally deliver to the soldiers special Passover gifts funded by donations to Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers by IDF supporters all over the world.
In an attempt to show IDF soldiers how much people recognize their self sacrifice for Israel, donors may write a personal note of appreciation that will be included in the gift package.
“Gifts and festive seders really make a soldier’s holiday,” Daniel told Breaking Israel News. “These gives an extra oomph to our lives, knowing that people from all over the world cared to make our Passover more special and that people are looking out for us. These special treats make it easier on lone soldiers.”
“Gifts are not just gifts when received by a lone or needy soldier,” noted Gozal. “They bring a deep feeling of comradery and a sense that we are one family supporting the Holy Land.”
To send a Passover gift and personal note of appreciation to an IDF soldier, please click here.
Written in coordination with Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers.
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Source: Israel in the News