A bunch of loving American Jews are planning to make sure that IDF soldiers who have to remain on active duty on their bases do not miss out on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) celebrations this year, like the hordes of Israelis who head for the national parks, beaches and any empty piece of land to hold their annual BBQ.
In 2012, 400 volunteers affiliated with Standing Together, International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) – Israel Region, and National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), visited 16 of bases, with some 3000 soldiers, and brought them Yom Ha’atzmaut cheer, BBQ grills and an abundance of food.
How much food? 6000 hot dogs, 3000 hamburgers, stockpiles of pita bread, mountains of different salads, whole bottling plants of soft drinks and a lake of humus and ketchup. Or so it seemed.
When the group arrived in Ofer base, near the prison where Arab security inmates often stage their hunger strikes (talk about psychological warfare!), the place looked like a ghost town, report the BBQ organizers in a recent press release. The soldiers were resting up from a night filled with patrols and guard duty, and so the volunteers quietly and efficiently set up the grills, laid out tables, started cooking up a major storm – and the young folks in olive green came to investigate, first one by one and then in droves.
“Every year this program grows as many people here tell their friends what a meaningful experience they had last year,” said Miriam Gottlieb of Standing Together. “So we have repeat volunteers and new volunteers – what doesn’t change is how wide the smiles are on the soldiers faces when they see us!”
“Hey, who deserves the BBQ more then them?” asked Daniel Meyer, Executive-Director of IYIM.
This year, the organizers are expecting 500 volunteers who will be visiting bases throughout Israel, where friendships will be sealed with a good burger.