A combined delegation of the ZOA Brooklyn, International Young Israel Movement, World Mizrachi, and Yashar LaChayal Movements came to deliver. The delegation included Solly Sacks and Sondra Sokal (World Mizrachi), Ceec and Tema Harrishburg (IYIM), Daniel and Yael Meyer (IYIM), Ahava Ehrenpreis (Brooklyn, NY), Rubin Margules (ZOA Brooklyn/Manhattan Beach), Mr. and Mrs. Yerachmiel Reiss (Manhattan Beach); and Bernice and Elaine Shickman (NY).
The distribution was made possible by a massive weeklong combined campaign by the Zionist Organization of America–Brooklyn (President: Rubin Margules), Yashar LaChayal (Director: Leon Blankrot), International Young Israel Movement (President: Ceec Harrishburg), World Mizrachi Organization (Director: Solly Sacks), and American Friends of Yisrael Hatzair (President: Meir Mishkoff).
The packages were distributed to combat-unit soldiers on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, the air force, including drone and missile units, training bases, Gaza border bases, and to thousands of soldiers returning to bases all over Southern Israel on Purim morning.
Brooklyn native Rubin Margules, who flew in especially to lead the campaign, said, “It is a great privilege and honor to be able to distribute these packages to Israeli soldiers, who defend us 24 hours a day, and to bring a smile to their faces.” The packages were distributed along with hundreds of Purim greeting letters from Jewish communities worldwide and pictures from Jewish day school children. “The number of lone soldiers that we met from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, and South Africa serving in combat units of the IDF was quite amazing,” stated Solly Sacks of the World Mizrachi.
The smiles on the faces of the soldiers said it all. While on the campaign trail, the deliverers were accompanied by the IDF rabbinical choir, which performed four concerts. “The live music added so much to the joyous atmosphere. Soldiers who had been patrolling the borders all night and those getting out of their jeeps forgot about their exhaustion as they got up to dance and celebrate Purim,” noted Leon Blankrot, Yashar LaChayal.
90 minutes in an IDF bomb shelter.
At one celebration at the Gaza border, 600 soldiers, along with their commanders and some visitors, left the auditorium and walked intently into four bomb shelters. For these soldiers it was a routine they knew and had rehearsed; the visitors had a taste of Israel’s contemporary struggles. The soldiers were sitting in an auditorium in a Gaza border base enjoying their Purim celebrations following an address by Mr. Rubin Margules, dancing to the music of the IDF rabbinical choir, and listening to a standup comedian when the sirens started wailing.
During the next 90 minutes spent in a bomb shelter while over 60 missiles landed 4 miles away, the visiting group was able to meet some of the soldiers, such as Shmuel from the neighboring Kibbutz Be’eri and Ayelet, the education officer who had organized the Purim play. Other soldiers included Baruch, head of the rabbinical choir, who helped maintain spirits in the shelter with his singing; Miriam (dressed as Minnie Mouse), an intelligence officer who had been on stage ten minutes before; and Shlomo, the high-ranking officer who was in charge of this specific shelter.
These brave soldiers who serve on border-hugging bases and installations live with the constant threat of attack. But all are highly motivated and know that they are defending their country. “It was a great honor to be able to represent so many friends from Jewish communities around the world that participated in this mega-campaign and allowed us to bring smiles to their faces. They wanted us in turn to say thank-you for the warmth, the caring, and of course the candy,” said Mr. Daniel Meyer (Exec.-Director, IYIM).