On Wednesday evening, December 12, 2012, United with Israel in conjunction with Thank Israeli Soldiers hosted a special event to honor Israeli soldiers serving near the Gaza border, at the Ugdat Aza military base. The event started out with the serving of traditional Chanukah sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), while Hanukkah music played in the background. Israeli soldiers and families from both Israel and the Jewish Diaspora feasted together and spoke about the political situation in Israel.

Michael Gerbitz of United with Israel informally addressed the group by speaking about how people from all four corners of the globe have connected to Israel via social media and that many people around the world have respect for the Israel Defense Forces. The soldiers who were standing by really appreciated this. One soldier, Mayan, who is an officer, spoke about how he is defending Israel because if he didn’t, no one else would. He also emphasized that it was from this military base that the IDF protects all Israeli communities from threats emanating from Gaza. Michael compared the noble work of the IDF to that of the Maccabees over 2000 years ago.

A video was shown, displaying news clips from Operation Pillar of Defense that demonstrated the successes of the IDF, in great part due to the work of the soldiers stationed at this base. Gerbitz then spoke about the work of United with Israel and mentioned how at the height of Operation Pillar of Defense, the United with Israel website was hacked, along with other Israeli organizations. Gerbitz declared that there is a “military battle that the IDF is fighting, but there is also a fierce battle for information.” Indeed, the Arab hackers had a vested interest in preventing the truth from getting out to the world, in order to aid them in the public relations war. Yet somehow, “out of every situation, something good” always happens, Gerbitz said. This is the way God runs the world, and particularly for the Nation of Israel.

He explained that during the height of Operation Pillar of Defense, his family took in a large Sephardic family with 14 children from Netivot, a community that suffered greatly from Hamas rockets attacks. Despite cultural and language differences, the families became very close and learned much from each other. When the family returned home, it was very emotional and a lasting relationship had been developed.

The children of this Netivot family often had nightmares, dreaming of sirens blaring and rockets exploding. They often were forced to cram with the neighbors into a single bomb shelter. This religious family became very close with their secular neighbors. Indeed, when Israel goes to war, all differences among Jews disappear and everyone unites to support one another. It makes no difference whether one is secular, traditional or religious; Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Israeli-born or foreign. In times of crisis, Jews all become one big family.


Personal notes from all around the world were presented to the soldiers and several were read out loud. The outpouring of support that Israeli soldiers received from fans across the globe was absolutely mind-boggling. The young soldiers had no idea how many people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in so many countries, support them and love them. The soldiers were very appreciative of the support and encouragement. They were deeply and visibly touched.

After the speech, there was singing and dancing. Musicians were brought in to play drums and the guitar.A senior IDF officer lit a Chanukah menorah made out of actual kassam rockets that exploded in Israel. As Gerbitz stated, “The menorah is the story of the Jewish people, taking tragedy and transforming it into something positive, taking terror and turning it into light.” In conclusion, pizza was served and special care packages with warm winter clothes and Chanukah menorahs were handed out to the soldiers, who truly appreciated the gifts.

One IDF soldier named Neli said that she really cherished the jackets because it was beginning to get cold. Another soldier, Menachem, thanked United with Israel supporters around the world for the gifts, saying that he and his friends especially enjoyed the pizza. Another soldier, Matan Cohen, said that what United With Israel did “warmed the heart.” Another, Aobi commented that it was “very good” what United With Israel did for the soldiers. Nofeal also was very grateful, saying the jackets will make the soldiers “feel warm.”


Chanukah articles


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