A sweet New Year it will be for thousands Israeli soldiers who can rest easier knowing their basic needs will be taken care of this Rosh Hashanah, thanks to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and Ha'aguda Lema'an Hachayal.
Almost 11,000 economically disadvantaged IDF soldiers, as well as Lone Soldiers, will be receiving gift cards in the amount of 500 shekels, or about $132, totaling approximately 5 million shekels, or $1.3 million. The gift cards are redeemable for supplies such as food, clothing, and shoes at more than 100 Israeli retail stores.
Of the soldiers receiving the holiday gift cards, roughly 6,800 are Lone Soldiers – those who come from abroad to serve in the IDF without any immediate family in Israel, or native Israelis who serve without family support. 55 percent of Lone Soldiers serve in combat or combat-support roles. Out of all Lone Soldiers currently serving in the IDF, more than half come from 73 countries around the world: 686 are from the US, 647 from Russia, 501 from Ukraine and 341 from France. These Lone Soldiers who come from all corners of the globe, enter the IDF melting pot, enrich it with their talent, and contribute to its strength.
“For some IDF soldiers who don't have the luxury of being at home with their families or those who are financially disadvantaged, serving in the army is even more challenging,” said Steven Weil, CEO of FIDF. “We, their extended family, are proud to help them celebrate Rosh Hashanah without financial distress. IDF soldiers protect Israel and Jews worldwide, and our job is to look after them and give them a feeling of warmth, belonging, and security.”
“Ha'aguda Lema'an Hachayal works to support, assist, and ease the challenging military service of the Lone Soldiers, thousands of whom are new Olim who have come to serve in the IDF, as well as soldiers who face family and financial complexity,” said General (Res.) Yoram Yair, “Yaya,” Chairman, Ha'aguda Lema'an Hachayal. “This wonderful population represents the best of the youth enlisting in the IDF. We would like to thank the donors of FIDF, whose support makes this possible.”