: The IDF thanks “lone American soldiers” on Thanksgiving with a holiday turkey meal in cooperation with the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

For lone IDF soldiers, holidays can be tough. Far away from their families, it’s common for lone soldiers to long for home during these times.

The AJC and IDF on Thursday hosted the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the 10th year, welcoming 30 lone soldiers who have no family in Israel. All parts of the IDF were represented at the dinner, from elite combat fighters to everyday “jobniks.”

“These are young people who left behind college educations, careers that they were starting, they made a choice to come to Israel, make aliyah, and to put themselves on the line defending their new country,” said Edward Rettig, the director of the American Jewish Committee in Israel. “We very much honor that decision they made.

“These are people whose parents and friends are 8,000 kilometers away, so especially on a holiday like Thanksgiving we want to be there for them, give them a really good meal and provide them with a little taste of America.”

There was one notable change in the annual affair. In recent years, an empty chair had been placed at the Thanksgiving dinner table for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. With Shalit’s homecoming last month, no such chair was needed this year.

After gobbling the turkeys, the soldiers returned to their bases to return to defending Israel.

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

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