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February 15, 2016 3:02 am

How to Help Israeli ‘Lone Soldiers’ This Purim

avatar by Mordechai Botnick

Clows and hamentashen on Purim. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Clows and hamentashen on Purim. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Levi is an IDF lone soldier from Brooklyn. He is currently serving in the Golani Brigade, stationed down south near the Gaza-Egypt border.

On Purim, instead of getting the day off to celebrate with family and friends, he will be staying on base, allowing Israelis to enjoy the festivities in peace. His uniform is no costume. He is loaded with full gear — his Tefillin, his weapon and his helmet. The meal is the same as every day. No special treats, no noisemakers, just the same work, day in and day out.

For him, the story of Purim isn’t just a tale that occurred hundreds of years ago. He relives it daily. As a soldier, he knows what it means to defend His people from the Hamans’ of today. Just a year and a half ago, Operation Protective Edge took place in Gaza. Since this past September, Israel has been under attack from terror in cities throughout the land.

Haman awaited the day he would be able to annihilate the Jews. With no one to turn to, the Jews relied on G-d. Today, G-d sends his angels disguised as soldiers, standing to protect us from those who wish to wipe the Jewish people off the map.

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On Purim, the IDF Purim Project will be handing out more than 3,000 mishloachei manot (Purim baskets) to these soldiers. A large percentage are lone soldiers who come to serve from New York, London, Sydney and many other cities throughout the world.

In 2014, the program was launched by Chayal el Chayal, the IDF Lone Soldiers’ Home Away From Home, with the goal of creating 400 mishloachei manot. They quickly upped that number to 1,400 when they saw their original number was far too small. In 2015, history repeated itself. 1,400 became 3,000!

For three days, morning to night, volunteers and even soldiers came to help pack mishloachei manot, putting together beautiful packages, complete with personal hand-written letters from children worldwide. Volunteers and former lone soldiers set out in six cars, overloaded with Mishloach Manot, to more than 40 different bases across Israel. At each base they handed out packages and gave soldiers the chance to hear the Megillah. They stopped at random bus stops and gave them to soldiers on the street, spreading the joy of Purim throughout the country.

This year, the IDF Purim Project is gearing up again — buying snacks, planning routes, recruiting volunteers, and getting ready to make this year the best one yet.

You can make an IDF soldier smile too, whether you’re five, 15 or 55. Get involved by donating Purim baskets, involving your school and community, or having your children write letters.

For more information on how you can participate, visit our website, or contact Chaya at [email protected].

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