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Purim is known to be the time of year when everything gets mixed up. This year it was the weather. When three buses left the OU Israel Center in Yerushalayim the day before Ta’anit Esther (March 12), it was cold and raining.

Two hours later when they arrived at the IDF Infantry Training Base near Yeruham, the sun was shining. There was even a rainbow.

The group of about 140 people included volunteers from OU Israel as well as about 100 yeshiva students mostly, one year post high school students who are learning this year at Torat Shraga or Ashreinu in Yerushalayim.

The purpose of their trip to the south was to bring Purim joy – and fun — to the soldiers at the Bislach IDF Infantry Training School near Yeruham . With the generosity of Osem Foods, OU Israel provided mishlochei manot the 3,000 soldiers on the base.

But the OU Israel visitors got as much as they gave.

In his welcoming remarks, Lt. Col. Yoav explained that the soldiers in Bislach are there to learn how to operate all the military hardware that the IDF Infantry needs.

The visitors then got to see the equipment up close. Soldiers were on hand to explain how different military hardware works. This included a variety of weapons, night vision goggles and other optical equipment, mortars, tanks and other vehicles. In addition to climbing on tanks and sitting in IDF Hummers, everyone had a chance to try the shooting simulator which enabled them to use computerized machine guns to fire at targets projected on a wall.

Once they completed their army experience, they joined the soldiers for a Purim party.

Mishlochei manot were distributed, and everyone joined together to sing and dance.

The visitors from OU Israel were very moved by the experiences. They did more than spread Purim spirit. They showed IDF soldiers that they really appreciate the fact that they protect the Jewish people.

Everyone was glad to have participated in a very different kind of Purim experience.