American Jews send Purim joy to IDF soldiers

ZOA gears up for Mishloach Manot campaign, replete with hand-written letters of thanks from Jewish schoolchildren in the US.

Fern Sidman ,

IDF soldiers (illustration)
IDF soldiers (illustration)
Flash 90

The Brooklyn Region of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is gearing up this Purim to launch their 16th annual Mishloach Manot campaign, bringing American Jews together to distribute over 9,000 of the traditional food packages for the holiday along with personalized letters of support to IDF soldiers.

The campaign this year has expanded to include 29 Jewish schools from around the US. From Portland, Oregon to Long Island, New York and many locations in between, children from the first to the twelfth grade have written letters to the soldiers thanking them for keeping the Jewish state safe.

ZOA's Israel Office, directed by Jeff Daube and aided on the project by ZOA's development director Howard Katzoff, has been working to coordinate the campaign together with International Young Israel Movement, Mizrachi, Yashar l'Chayal, Ariel University/Ariel Cultural Center, Ateret Cohanim, and Col. (res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas.

For the last 16 years ZOA Brooklyn regional president Rubin Margules has been spearheading the Purim campaign for IDF soldiers.

"I have been personally involved in this important ZOA campaign for many years and I must say that the letters written to the IDF by children this year leave you misty-eyed," said Margules. "They are so poignant, moving and beautifully written. The children are truly cognizant of the awesome responsibility that each person serving in the IDF has and they really want to give back in some way."

"That speaks volumes about the Ahavat Yisrael and Achdut that our children are being taught through their participation in this campaign."

He noted that this year a special concert is planned in Ariel for IDF soldiers and their families as part of the campaign, adding, "last year, the ZOA sponsored a most successful and highly spirited concert in Kiryat Arba and over 500 soldiers attended. This year's festivities will also include top-notch entertainment."

ZOA regions including Michigan, Philadelphia and South Florida all took part in arranging the activities and bringing in additional donors.

"This ZOA Mishloach Manot campaign is a wonderful expression of the unwavering bond that American Jews share with Israel and its intrepid soldiers. It also represents a marvelous opportunity to show our appreciation at a minimal cost," said Margules.

"Yet, the most important thing we can do for our children is to instruct them in what the Torah mandates of us all  and that is appreciation. Appreciation to Hashem and to everyone who sacrifices for Am Yisrael. By taking an active role and writing letters to the IDF, these children infuse such delight and joy in the hearts of these soldiers and it really bolsters their spirits."

Margules pointed out that this Purim gives new significance to the campaign in light of the wave of Arab terror that the soldiers have been forced to face for the last half-year or so.

"Since the wave of lone wolf Arab stabbing and shooting attacks began, a high percentage of the casualties have been IDF members who have put their own lives in harm's way to protect civilians at all costs. They do so unflinchingly and with great courage and for that, we are eternally indebted to them."

"Appreciation is a two-way street and I witness this with my own eyes every year when I travel to Israel to distribute the mishloach manot and the letters to the IDF.  Here we are, coming from America to show our thanks to them, and what I see and hear from these soldiers is their full-throated appreciation and thanks to us for remembering and acknowledging their service and commitment," he concluded.

Those interested in becoming a Purim campaign donor can visit the ZOA Brooklyn site here.