The concept of the “lone soldier” is almost unique to Israel where so many young men and women serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) without having immediate family in Israel. The lone solider can be a new immigrant or a volunteer from abroad. Most of them have no family in Israel to stay at on weekends when they are off base, and the pandemic makes things even worse — their relatives cannot come to visit them in Israel, and COVID-19 restrictions require soldiers to spend longer periods of time on base. Where can lone soldiers go for a reassuring hug, a hot meal, or a package from home?
This year, for the first time in the 26-year history of our Partnership, Israelis from Yokneam and Megiddo held a fundraiser to support and “adopt” lone soldiers from Atlanta and St. Louis now serving in the IDF. Local volunteers from the region will deliver packages to these lone soldiers at army bases across Israel. The effort was organized completely by volunteers and they surpassed their goal, raising approximately $6,000. Lone soldiers will receive packages for the High Holidays and also for Thanksgiving. Four more Partnership communities will follow Yokneam and Megiddo’s lead and raise funds to support lone soldiers. What a beautiful way to pay forward our sense of kesher (bridge building).