They adopt lone soldiers and learn Zionism from them

Arutz Sheva speaks with Shalom Ashkenazi about the special bond his family forms with lone soldiers and what they learn from them.

Yoni Kempinski ,

The Ashkenazi family with 4 of the 5 lone soldiers they adopted.
The Ashkenazi family with 4 of the 5 lone soldiers they adopted.
Courtesy of the family.

The Ashkenazi family of Kibbutz Lavi adopts a new lone soldier every two years. In a conversation with Arutz Sheva, Shalom Ashkenazi, CEO of the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel, spoke about how much his family benefits from adopting lone soldiers.

"We adopted our first lone soldier, Keren, ten years ago," Ashkenazi tells us. "Since then we adopt a new soldier every two years."

You have children at home. Are they happy about it?

"The children love when guests come from the army. They ask who's coming every Shabbat, and when Keren comes, it's a celebration. The children are a part of it. We also see it as an educational lesson for the children. I always tell them: 'We have to enlist in the IDF since we live here. We have to learn from the lone soldiers who don't have to but come and volunteer.'"

"The 'lone' soldiers are not really 'lone' soldiers at all - they're surrounded by love. They're invited to different people every Shabbat. We're upset when they don't come to us but we're very happy that they're invited to others and have Israeli friends. We go with them to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to see the sights, and all the time people approach them and talk to them. It's heartwarming to see the special atmosphere here."

What do you learn from them?

"I learn what the meaning of sacrifice is. When I was on shelichus (representing Israel in the Diaspora) in Los Angeles, the rabbi of the Maimonides school there said to the children, 'You think that sacrifice means to get an Ipod3 instead of an Ipod4. Sacrifice means to sacrifice your life.'"

"The lone soldiers come and volunteer and join combat units - they sacrifice their lives. They love the state of Israel. If only we loved Israel and showed our love like they do. If only we could recognize the good we have like they do."

How do you feel on Independence Day when all of Israel is celebrating?

It's wonderful. You see them proudly walking around in their uniforms - they don't take them off even though everyone's walking around in regular clothing. On Memorial Day, we visit the grave of Michael Levin. The last thing you could say about Michael Levin was that he was a lone soldier. There were thousands of people by the grave."

"The lone soldiers appreciate the fact that we have a state, that we have independence - in my opinion - more than we do. I learn so much from them. I suggest to anyone who has the opportunity to get to know lone soldiers."

"My son, who was born when we were in Los Angeles on shelichus, told me that when he grows up he wants to be a lone soldier because he's an American citizen. I told him that would be great - he'll be a lone soldier and we'll adopt him."