In the spirit of the Passover holiday, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Keren L’Yedidut) is sponsoring NIS 500 gift coupons for 8500 lone soldiers and soldiers from low-income families, all of which add up to a combined value of over NIS 4 million. The initiative, which was launched in cooperation with Yachad Lema’an Hachayal, an organization under the Israeli Defense Ministry’s umbrella that funnels donations to Israeli soldiers and military units, is dedicated this year to the memory of the late Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder and former president of The Fellowship.
The gift coupons, which are valid in the Shufersal supermarket chain, are aimed at giving the soldiers the opportunity to purchase not only food but clothing, footwear, sports apparel, electronics and other products they may want or need. The 8500 soldiers have received necessary referrals for eligibility from respective IDF units.
Among those receiving the gift coupon are 6581 lone soldiers, 54% of whom are serving as combat soldiers or as soldiers providing combat support. Fifty-five percent of the lone soldiers who are entitled to a coupon come from 76 different countries between them all. Of the countries of origin with the largest number of lone soldiers, 882 are from the United States, (about 24% of soldiers who are new immigrants or “olim”), 596 from the Ukraine (about 16% of soldiers who are olim) and 479 from Russia (approximately 13% of soldiers who are olim). These lone soldiers, who moved to Israel from all over the globe, do not merely make up a composite melting pot within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but also help to enrich the Israeli army and contribute to its overall strength.
“The IDF is the people’s army, and as such it is not immune to dealing with the social challenges that characterize Israel,” noted President of The Fellowship, Yael Eckstein. “Every year, thousands of soldiers from low-income families and thousands of lone soldiers who have come to Israel by themselves in order to enlist in the IDF, serve in the Israeli army. Together with the army and partners such as Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and Yachad Lema’an Hachayal, The Fellowship has developed a series of unique solutions through which soldiers receive assistance as part of an effort to enable them to serve in tranquility.”
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