“When the [Israelite] troops returned to the camp, the elders of Yisrael asked, “Why did Hashem put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the Aron Brit Hashem from Shilo; thus He will be present among us and will deliver us from the hands of our enemies.” I Samuel 4:3 (The Israel Bible™)
These past weeks have been an intense period for Israel – not only because of the emergency situation that Israel is currently facing, with hundreds of rockets launched into Israel by the Hamas terror organization, but also with three national holidays this week.
On Yom HaShoah, from the evening of May 1-2, Israel remembered the six million Jews systematically murdered in the Holocaust.
On Yom HaZikaron, from the evening of May 7-8, Israel will mourn the loss of soldiers that have been injured, wounded and killed.
The following evening, from May 8-9, the country will turn sadness into a celebration of the building of the State on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Over the past week, because of the current security situation and holidays, the entire State of Israel has felt the significance of each of these days experientially – that of memory, loss and rebuilding.
Likewise, an incident at the Kissufim IDF base in southern Israel has shed further light onto these symbolic times.
In addition to the rockets that have fallen in Israel’s southern communities, a Hamas-fired rocket recently hit an IDF zone, destroying a military synagogue built by Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, the only Israeli government-sanctioned organization tasked with ensuring soldier welfare.
The rocket that hit the on-base synagogue for soldiers adjacent to the Gaza Strip, destroyed something very precious – a Torah scroll donated through the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) in memory of a Holocaust survivor from New York.
This tragic loss is quite symbolic.
Memory, symbolized by Yom HaShoah, is the Torah Scroll.
Loss, symbolized by Yom HaZikaron, is the current security situation of the past two days in which hundreds of missiles and rockets have left many Israelis injured and four dead.
Rebuilding of life, symbolized by Yom HaAtzmaut, is our task as Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers.
After Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, we understand that we can only celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut because of IDF soldiers that work day and night to destroy terrorist tunnels, control violent riots, stop rocket launchers and prevent burning kites and explosive balloons from entering Israeli soil.
In order to rebuild, we connect donors from all over the world to soldiers, including through the adopt-a-combat-battalion program, in order to increase the spirit of the IDF, showing them that they are never alone. That which is destroyed will be rebuilt unconditionally, including the destroyed synagogue.
Toward these ends, this week, when most of the roads were closed around Gaza, Yahad was there with the soldiers, providing drinks and candy. Every time a unit is called to the border or the field, Yahad follows them with mobile trucks to provide for their needs.
Fortunately, many people in Israel and around the world have also come together wanting to support these very soldiers.
While the IDF is in charge of providing food for the soldiers, providing for the spirit of the IDF is the responsibility of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. We would like to remind those who would like to help that the best way to support soldiers is through Yahad, the only organization that can legally offer gifts to IDF soldiers
Under Israeli law, all donations – money or otherwise – must go through Yahad or other pre-approved organizations that fundraise for Yahad, including FIDF, American Friends of LIBI and other Yahad branches around the world including in Mexico, Canada, France and the UK. Other independent organizations that arrange funds and gifts in the name of IDF soldiers do not operate under IDF regulation and unfortunately waste the efforts, money and time of well-meaning supporters.
Through Yahad, every dollar and shekel goes directly to the IDF in order to help soldiers in the areas they need most, often times, supporting lone soldiers with housing and a flight to their home country during their service in the IDF. Additionally, for combat soldiers and lone soldiers alike, Yahad provides education and morale-boosting packages and services checked and approved by the IDF. Working within this system is the best and safest way to serve the IDF and the people of Israel.
Next week, Yahad will be bringing three big vans full of packages to the north, south and center of Israel with the purpose of making the soldiers feel good. In the case that an incursion is needed, Yahad will be ready with volunteers to show the soldiers support and bring anything soldiers may need, at any time, in order to raise morale.
Uniting and supporting Israel’s troops is as important today as it is every single day. At the same time, I speak openly when I say that a potential war is brewing and we must be fully prepared as well as praying for peace. And as we near Israel’s Day of Independence, we remember those who gave their lives for the state of Israel and Jewish people all over the world, and thank the supporters of the IDF.
Brigadier General (res.) Yehiel Gozal is the CEO of “Yahad” – United for Israel’s soldiers, Chairman of the “Paratroops Heritage Association” in Israel. and served in the IDF for 27 years. Despite injuries sustained in Southern Lebanon, he continued to fight and was honored with a citation for his bravery under fire. His last duty was Chief of the Southern Command Staff.