Daily Israel Report

Businesses and Companies Adopt IDF Battalions

Project to provide financial, social support to IDF soldiers celebrates seven years - and 150 units sponsored.
By Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 6/8/2014, 2:04 PM

Day in and day out, IDF combat soldiers work hard to ensure Israel remains safe and its citizens remain unharmed. 

Seven years ago, a new program was formed to help those soldiers feel connected to the very people they protect: the Adopt-a-Battalion Program, which connects individuals and companies to specific units to form a mutual bond between them - and provide both financial and emotional support. 

Arutz Sheva spoke to Brigadier-General and Chairman of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers, Avigdor Kahalani, this week as part of a special interview ahead of the program's seven-year anniversary.  

"The idea behind Adopt-A-Battalion is to get the community to work closely with the Army," the Brig. Gen. stated. "There is a unique relationship between the soldiers and the companies which take care of them, which support them." 

Companies and individuals signed up for the program make a three-year commitment to the unit, often attending joint activities and social events with the soldiers. 

In the past seven years, the organization has increased its sponsorship from 70 donors to over 140 donors across Israel and around the world.

Donors include Tnuva, Teva, the Friends of the IDF (FIDF), Ernst and Young and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), to name a few.

On Monday, the IFCJ held a special recognition event for the program, in a ceremony attended not only by Brig. Gen. Kahalani, but also IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Representatives from 150 different units attended to thank over 30 donors for their participation in the project. 

"This evening I can say with pride that there is no other such country in the world where we have such an event of convergence towards a common goal," the Brig. Gen. stated. "We have an awesome army, which inspires people across the globe, and we feel that every soldier serves with pride."

"We are all combat soldiers, we all fight out of a sense of togetherness and commitment to the community," he continued. "Today we are here in honor of the IDF and its combat soldiers." 

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz had a more philosophical approach.

"In this meeting we could talk and compare trends in the global economy in recent years, the globalization, the gas sector in Europe, and China where it leads. We could also talk about security problems in the environment, the issue of Iran, and the changes in Syria, Egypt and the Gaza Strip, but it's not appropriate for tonight," Gantz began. "[Instead,] we are talking about the one thing we have in common: we both give. You, [the donors], give the best to the community and we give our best to you all."

"We must remember that we both give, just from two differing perspectives: [despite this,] we both give and receive equally," he continued. "We came here today to say 'thank you.'" 

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the IFCJ, emphasized the contribution of the IDF to Jewish and Israeli security.

"There are no words to express how excited I am to be here today with the heroes of Israel, next to the leading members of Israeli society," he said. "I must emphasize the purity of the IDF's tactics, and how the IDF, despite what the world says about it, is the most ethical army in the world."

"I am proud to take part in this project, and when I heard that about 40 military units that do not have anyone to adopt them, I decided that this needed to change," he continued. "It could not be that the State of Israel has IDF units without support. I thank you, [the donors who] adopted our units with our sons and daughters [who serve in them], and you give hope to Israeli society."