update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Purim 2023

Project in memory of slain Israeli teens geared to unite Israeli and Diaspora Jews

El Al and Arkia flight attendants are distributing Purim packages to passengers before they board the plane to be distributed to a fellow Jew in a different country.

Arkia flight attendants hand out Purim gift packages to passengers, March 2023. Credit: Arkia Israeli Airlines.
Arkia flight attendants hand out Purim gift packages to passengers, March 2023. Credit: Arkia Israeli Airlines.

The SonShine Association is running its Jewish Connection Project this week, part of an initiative to distribute thousands of mishloach manot packages to passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport flying abroad for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

With the help of the association’s volunteers, flight attendants are distributing packages to El Al and Arkia passengers before they board the plane. Passengers are then asked to pass along their package to a fellow Jew at their destination.

Approximately 7,500 packages will be sent this year to various countries worldwide.

The Jewish Connection Project, in memory of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach—teenage Israeli boys who were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in June 2014—is taking place for the fifth year in a row, this time in collaboration with Arkia and El Al airlines, Tamam and the World Zionist Organization.

“It is precisely now, when the people of Israel are facing difficult challenges, that we decided to increase our unity and bring additional light,” said Bat Galim Shaer, founder and CEO of the SonShine Association, and mother of Gilad. “The unity of our people currently faces a difficult test. We have always known how to unite against external enemies, and we wish to remind everyone that it is forbidden to let internal discord, however important it may be, divide us from within.”

El Al flight attendants and Bat Galim Shaer, the founder and CEO of the SonShine Association (right), hand out Purim gift packages to passengers, March 2023. Credit: El Al Airlines.

“Nine years ago, we received a strong hug from our brothers in the Diaspora,” she continued, “and since then we have been working to strengthen the bond between Israelis and Jews around the world. Israel is a country where every Jew has a place, and a holiday like Purim, which all Jews celebrate with great joy, is an opportunity to remind us of that.”

Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization said “we are one people, and strengthening the relationship with our brothers in the Diaspora is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. We are brothers—whether we live in Israel, France or Australia.”

In recent years, both sides have expressed concern over the weakening connection in the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. According to a recently published study by the Jewish People Policy Institute, nearly half of the participants—and 60% of young people—feel a great distance between Israelis and Jews of the Diaspora. A whopping 71% of young Israelis who participated in the study agreed with that statement, saying Israelis do not know Diaspora Jewry and its needs.

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