When was the last time you saw a barbecue for 3,000 soldiers?
Last week, David Landau and Miriam Gottlieb partnered with the International Young Israel Movement (IYIM)'s Israel Region to make it happen on Independence Day (Yom Ha'Aztma'ut). They, along with hundreds of English-speaking volunteers living in Israel, visited 16 Israel Defense Force bases to bring the holiday spirit to soldiers who were unable to obtain leave to celebrate with their families.
A band of 400 people and visitors from abroad shlepped BBQ grills and all the trimmings – 6,000 hot dogs, 3,000 hamburgers, hundreds of pitas, and an endless array of salads, drinks, humus and condiments.
At the Nitzanim army base, 100 volunteers brought 10 grills, “tons of charcoal, meat, soda, salads, pretzels, cake, a TON of watermelons and even more smiles. It turns out we had a large contingent of religious soldiers who just entered their basic training a few weeks ago,” reported volunteer Steven Newman.
"They were kind of down, and being the grunts and all, were stuck on base when most got leave.”
Others spread out to the Golan Heights, to Beitar in Gush Etzion, and even the Ofer army base, described “almost like a ghost town as soldiers rested up after a night filled with patrols and guard duty to ensure the safety of Israel's citizens on her birthday.”