JERUSALEM – Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show host Montel Williams couldn’t do enough last week for a group of American and Canadian-born Israel Defense Forces “lone soldiers.”
Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over a decade ago, heads the Montel Williams MS Foundation and is deeply involved in supporting medical research toward finding a cure for the debilitating disease. He spent a substantial portion of his time in Israel meeting with hospital executives and doctors involved in stem cell research and experimental procedures, which they hope that one day will lead to a cure for MS.
Williams was at the tail end of his nine-day visit Israel when he was asked to partake in a Lone Soldier Center weekend gathering in Jerusalem.
The Lone Soldier Center, which was created in memory of Michael Levin, a native of Philadelphia killed during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, provides meals, outreach services and a sense of community to the hundreds soldiers who have left family and friends behind in the Diaspora in order to serve in the IDF
On Friday night, after experiencing a spiritually charged Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel, Williams addressed the soldiers at their monthly Shabbat dinner.
A former U.S. Marine and decorated Navy officer, Williams was also the main attraction at the Lone Soldier Center’s Motzei Shabbat bash at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, where he posed for pictures and schmoozed amiably with the soldiers, who were only too happy to see an American celebrity identify with them.
“It’s important to give them a sense of family and camaraderie when they have some time off. It gives these kids a chance to forget about the hard work they perform, even for a few minutes,” Williams told The Jewish Press.
During the course of the evening, the soldiers and Williams were informed of the deadly Grad rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon. Said Williams, “Honestly, Americans can’t conceive of what takes place in Israel on a daily basis.
“This is my third and longest visit to Israel. I find it phenomenal that people who live under constant threat continue to try to live their daily lives as normally as possible. Israelis are interested in living and in healing others, which really gives you a different perspective on life.”