JERUSALEM (JTA) – More than 200 soldiers in Israeli army infantry brigades received a special leave to attend a Thanksgiving dinner in Tel Aviv.
The soldiers in the Golani and Givati brigades were invited to the special Nov. 25 meal by the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin.
Former lone soldiers, who serve as the center’s volunteers, prepared the second annual feast.
More than 5,100 lone soldiers, men and women, come to Israel from other countries to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces.
“We want to give the soldiers a feeling of family and community," said Joshua Flaster, a former lone soldier and director of the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. "It’s our job to help them feel welcome and connected here. It can be tough at times being a lone soldier — beyond your service in the army, there are social and emotional aspects that are often overlooked.”
Flaster recalled, “When I was serving, I always had a hard time knowing I was missing out on holidays and family occasions back home."
Michael Levin, a lone soldier who fell fighting in 2006 in the Second Lebanon War, was a big fan of Thanksgiving and continued celebrating it after making aliyah and starting his army service.
The center, founded in February 2009 and with offices in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, assists lone soldiers with pre-army information counseling and seminars, Shabbat meals, obtaining and moving furniture, and matching soldiers with local families.