“As much as we were in awe of the soldiers, they were amazed by our show of support and appreciation. They never realized how much love people have for them.”
On Wednesday evening December 17, 2014, the second night of Chanukah, American and Israeli families joined IDF soldiers at two military bases – one just outside the city of Bet Shemesh and the other in the Hebron area – to celebrate Chanukah and say “Thank You” to Israeli soldiers.
The event, organized by United with Israel and Thank Israeli Soldiers, featured music, dancing, dinner, Chanukah sufganiot (jelly donuts), special presentations and, of course, the lighting of the Menorah.
Hebron, one of the four holy cities, is where the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is located. The group visited the site, which was an incredibly moving experience.
This ancient Jewish city, located in the Judean Hills, is where King David first ruled before establishing his kingdom in Jerusalem. Hebron, which had a continuous Jewish presence until the famous massacre in 1929, was liberated from Jordan in 1967 during the Six Day War.
The Hebron area is nonetheless among the most dangerous in all of Israel. The army base is situated in the vicinity of major terror cells. In fact, the kidnappers and murderers of three Israeli teens in the summer, before the onset of Operation Protective Edge, hailed from the Hebron region – from towns and villages under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.
A special ceremony was held in honor of the soldiers in which they received ‘Warm Winter’ care packages and other gifts from United with Israel supporters. Personal letters from admirers the world over were presented as expressions of gratitude and unity.
While some were native to Israel, many of the soldiers were from places such as New York, Australia, England, South Africa and Canada.
Coming away from the event,” the general feeling was one of unity, respect and appreciation,” said one of the participants. “It’s one thing to read about the incredible accomplishments of the IDF and their prowess on the battle field. It’s another to meet the special soldiers in person, to speak to them and take the time to learn who they are.”
“As much as we were in awe of the soldiers, they were amazed by our show of support and appreciation. As we were told many times throughout the day, they never realized how much love people have for them,” said another.
Children who came along with their families seemed to have a wonderful time. Families enjoyed a private tour that included combat vehicles and training areas. They came away from the event with an even greater admiration for the IDF – seeing the soldiers for who they really are and what they do.
Judging by how cold it was, the warm clothing was well needed. Mutual thanks were exchanged before the return home.
A special thanks goes to the global United with Israel community who generously sponsored the care packages that were distributed to the soldiers. The IDF Gift campaign will continue throughout the winter in order to provide thousands more soldiers with ‘Warm Winter’ packages and personal notes of support and appreciation.
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We are honored to thank the young men and women of the IDF who risk their lives every day to defend the citizens of Israel.
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THE SOLDIERS REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR LOVE AND CONCERN!