Soldier on bus (illustrative)
Soldier on bus (illustrative) Israel news photo: Flash 90

Missionaries in the Ashkelon area used the Purim tradition of handing out baskets of foodstuffs and sweets to try and spread their beliefs to Jewish soldiers. A group of soldiers in compulsory service were on a bus that took their company on a travel excursion. They stopped for a break at Yad Mordechai near Ashkelon when a young couple got on board the bus and began handing out mishlochei manot – the traditional Purim baskets.

“The woman handed out the baskets and the man, who looked like a missionary, began handing out booklets called 'The Book of Zohar', which contain missionary material, to the soldiers,” one of the soldiers told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service. “My friends and I, a group of Hesder yeshiva students within the company, immediately understood that these are foreign materials.”

"We informed one of the officers that this was missionary material and he collected the books from the soldiers,” he said. The missionaries did not give up, however, and when the bus stopped again, they tried to board it once more to hand out booklets, and had their pictures taken with the soldiers. The religious soldiers asked them to get off the bus and to delete the photographs from their camera.

The soldier said: “Most of the secular soldiers did not understand what the fuss was about. If we hadn't noticed and collected the material there is no way of knowing what confused hands it would have fallen into.”  

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