Purim music streaming from the truck, they drove from base to base delivering Mishloach Manot. As they pulled out, soldiers poured out of the buildings. There was singing, there was dancing, there were huge smiles all around.
Many of the soldiers we visited fought in Gaza, and the mishloach manot were a way to show our gratitude and recognize their efforts. It takes an army to fight a war, and OU Israel, together with ZOA and Emunah representatives, went to bases filled with soldiers less recognized than the front lines fighters, though just as vital, such as those responsible for maintenance of all army machinery and checkpoints. Their appreciation was unbelievable.
The mishloach manot included food, letters and a tehillim. Perhaps one of the most moving aspects was the soldiers’ reaction to the letters they received. Emunah spearheaded a letter writing campaign and hundreds of children wrote letters – both from the US and Israel. Excited and incredibly touched by the letters, the soldiers stood and read them aloud, sharing them with their friends. Many sat down to respond on the spot and handed them to OU representatives to deliver to the children.
“At one base, a jeep drove up and a soldier said he couldn’t believe we were there. He told his commanding officer and the officer couldn’t believe it either. He had to see it with his own eyes. He asked if we could come to his outpost after and give out mishloach manot to his friends,” explained Stan Hillelsohn, chairman of the OU Israel Commission. “It was supposed to be an early day because we had only arrived in Israel that morning, but we went over there and the soldiers were singing and dancing with us.”
The mission was organized in coordination with Rubin Margoles, ZOA national board member and Brooklyn Region President and Emunah.