In Israel, you get used to seeing IDF soldiers everywhere: walking the streets, on patrols, at the Machsom (road checkpoint). They are always on duty, ready to help. Sometimes, they respond to minor things. My mother was once in a car accident on her way from Neve Daniel to the pool in Tekoa. The soldiers were among the first on the scene to coordinate and protect her and the children, if necessary. Often, they respond to more major events, thwarting terrorists, or G-d forbid, fighting wars.
Sometimes, you pass a soldier and it strikes you. They are so young. Teenagers. Putting themselves in harm’s way to protect you and your children.
How can you thank someone for that?
Standing Together is an organization whose goal is just that. It also gives people from all over the world the opportunity to thank IDF soldiers in person. They take volunteers to IDF bases to visit the soldiers to deliver a bit a warmth and thanks, along with pizza, ice cream, doughnuts or other seasonal treats. Sometimes, they provide much needed supplies like winter gear or even a cell phone charging station.
Standing Together’s biggest volunteer event is on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. For a typical Israeli, this day is spent with family and friends preparing and enjoying the traditional Mangal (barbecue). For soldiers on duty, the day can pass in more sadness than joy. You know that feeling when everyone is partying and you are missing out? Now, imagine it on a country-wide level. So, Standing Together brings the Mangal to them! Brigades of families, with children and grandparents in tow, invade army bases throughout the country with pitot, salatim, kabobs, burgers, hot dogs, not to mention dessert treats! The volunteers bring the barbecues and cook and serve all the food. They bring balls, Frisbees, and even bubbles to entertain the children, and the soldiers.
Last year was our first Yom HaAtzmaut as Israelis. We were lucky enough to finally get the chance to participate in this event. I can think of no other way I would have rather spent the day, and can no longer think of a Yom HaAtzmaut without Standing Together. We have a wonderful zechut, privilege, to act on Standing Together’s motto, “Making a difference to those who make a difference in Israel.”
If you are in Israel, please join us! If you are not, you can still offer your support! Click here to participate either way.
Here is a great video of last year’s celebration: