On a chilly Tuesday, about 20 volunteers and Standing Together’s Director and Founder met in front of the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem for a special Purim mission. They were on their way with over a thousand mishloach manot – Purim packages – for IDF soldiers serving their country in the North. On the way the volunteers wrote letters to the soldiers to express their appreciation for all that the soldiers do and wish them a happy Purim. The bus brought the group to eight different army bases near Israel’s Northern Border. These are small bases, each with soldiers who are far from their homes and families and the soldiers were expecting the holiday would go by with very little celebration.
The group of volunteers was very heterogeneous. There were senior citizens, and children, students and parents, male and female all there for the purpose of showing the soldiers they care. Here are the comments of many of them.
Carolyn Diamond, a grandmother visiting from Lawrence, NY two of her 2 grandsons, ages 8 and 6 out of school to come with her on this adventure. The children were dressed in Purim costumes to add to the holiday spirit. She said “It has been a wonderful experience for them and for us. The soldiers are warm and friendly, and they really appreciate what we are doing. They are happy to see us, we brought smiles to their faces. So it’s really a win/win. Great day for everyone.”
Miriam Shear, Menahelet of Shir Bamidbar Seminary in Maaleh Adumim said, “We love what we are doing. It’s so important to see the conditions they live under and for them to know that we care. Gratifying to see them so happy. I live here and I am not ever leaving Eretz Yisrael so I am here to let them know what they are doing is so vital for all of us.”
Barbara Friedman, came on Aliyah from Montreal this past summer .She knew about Standing Together and has been happy to be involved because they spend everything on the soldiers. “Today has been an amazing positive experience, there is electricity in the air. The soldiers are energized and feel grateful and excited. We are a heterogeneous group, all excited about giving. This is the ultimate group for this important activity.”
Yizchack Brown, made Aliyah from Kansas City MS, lives in Jerusalem, he said “The joy from the soldiers is overwhelming. They gave us a great lunch, showed us how much it meant to them that we are here.”
Sue Benjamin lives in Harrison, New York,came to Israel for short vacation. “I have a renewed respect for what the chayalim [soldiers] do after seeing how they live and work, I feel so safe because they are protecting us. It was a beautiful day, the soldiers are happy to see us, overall an amazing experience”
Miriam Traube, from Monsey, NY is studying this year in Michlala in Jerusalem. Her sister had gone with Standing Together to visit soldiers a few a weeks ago. “I loved this experience, I want to bring my friends. I really think everyone should do this. It was so nice to make the serious soldiers smile and enjoy themselves.”
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