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‘Together for Seder’ reunites reserve lone soldiers with family

The cross-continental operation provided an emotional boost for olim from the United States, Brazil, France, Ukraine and Belgium.

Lone soldiers and their families reunite alongside Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer, chairman of the Jewish Agency Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, and Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi.
Lone soldiers and their families reunite alongside Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer, chairman of the Jewish Agency Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, and Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi.

Leading up to Passover, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Merage Foundation Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration hosted a reunion between Israel Defense Forces reserve lone soldiers who have served in the Iron Swords War with their family members who were brought over from around the world to celebrate the holiday together.

The complex cross-continental operation, “Together for Seder,” provided a poignant emotional boost for olim (immigrants to Israel) from the United States, Brazil, France, Ukraine and Belgium who do not have immediate relatives living in Israel. These olim all moved to Israel on their own, enrolled in higher education, and enlisted in mandatory military service, establishing an independent life in Israel while their families remained overseas.

“Together for Seder” is a special initiative of Wings, a joint program of the Jewish Agency, Merage Foundation Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. The program accompanies thousands of lone soldier olim each year in preparation for their recruitment, during their military service and up to about five years after their release from the IDF.

Thursday’s event was held at the Jewish Agency to salute lone soldiers in the presence of Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer, chairman of the Jewish Agency Maj. Gen. (Res.) Doron Almog, Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz, chair of the Wings Program Merav Mandelbaum, and Wings program director at the Mirage Foundation Israel Hila Solymani-Nemet.

The lone soldiers will spend the coming days reuniting with family members they haven’t seen in a long while and will all join together on April 23 for a festive seder organized by Wings.

Lone Soldiers and their families pose with Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz, Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer and Chairman of The Jewish Agency Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi.

Sofer, the minister of Aliyah and Integration, said, “I am very excited to salute the lone soldiers and their families who came from all over the world. They came here to be part of the people of Israel and have demonstrated solidarity and Zionism in these challenging days. The fact that these heroes left their home, studies, family, and work to come and be part of the IDF symbolizes their moving connection to the determination and devotion of the Jewish people for generations. I would like to thank the wonderful parents who sent their children to defend our country and, above all, instilled in them the necessary values to do so.”

Each year, approximately 3,000 olim lone soldiers serve in the IDF. Throughout the Iron Swords War, the Wings program accompanied these lone soldiers and provided them with support and assistance in a variety of areas according to their various needs.

“Being a lone soldier comes with its own set of challenges, and we are incredibly inspired by their strength and resilience in the face of adversity,” said David Merage, president of Merage Foundation Israel. “Their commitment to serving our country is truly remarkable, their courage and sacrifice are an inspiration, and we are privileged to support these lone soldiers. We thank them for all they do to protect and defend our country.”

Gamliel, 28, is among the lone soldiers honored. He fought for 160 days in Gaza, while his brother also fought in Gaza. The upcoming seder night with their two parents who were specially brought from Paris will be their first family meeting in six years.

“My parents had a difficult five months to say the least,” said Gamliel. “With two sons serving in the depths of Gaza, we weren’t in touch with them for weeks. We talk a lot about the situation in Israel and the situation in Paris and now we will finally sit together face to face.”

Almog added, “These lone soldiers who made aliyah are a symbol of unconditional love for the State of Israel. They choose to tie their fate with the fate of the country, go out and fight and be an integral part of the war for our existence. The reunion with their families with the help of the Wings program is our way of thanking them, giving them strength and embracing them with great love.”

Media Contact: Jake Sharfman, JCubed Communications, Jake@JCubedPR.com.

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The Jewish Agency for Israel has been working since 1929 to secure a vibrant Jewish future. It was instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel and continues to serve as the main link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere. This global partnership has enabled it to address the Jewish people’s greatest challenges in every generation. Today, the Jewish Agency connects the global Jewish family—bringing Jews to Israel and Israel to Jews—by providing meaningful Israel engagement and facilitating aliyah. It also strives to build a better society in Israel and beyond by energizing young Israelis and their worldwide peers to rediscover a collective sense of Jewish purpose. The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk. See: www.jewishagency.org.
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