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Paralympic gold medalist lights candles with Israel’s lone soldiers

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Paralympics gold medalist Noam Gershony lit Chanukah candles in Tel Aviv with lone soldier immigrants to Israel.

More than 100 lone soldiers, who moved to Israel without other family members, gathered in Tel Aviv on Dec. 13 for a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces/Nefesh B’Nefesh Chanukah celebration.

Gershony was an Israeli fighter pilot who was severely injured during the Second Lebanon War. His gold medal in tennis at the 2012 London Games was Israel’s first gold medal ever in the Paralympics games.

"As someone who was born in Israel, serving in the army is something I always wanted to do and something that was natural to me,” Gershony said at last week’s event. “But to live abroad and make aliyah to Israel as an adult with the clear aim of joining the IDF and protecting the State of Israel is probably the highest level of Zionism and love of Israel that I know. These lone soldiers deserve all the respect and admiration in the world for what they are doing.”

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