January 8, 2012
Gift cards worth more than $1.6 million handed to lone soldiers, soldiers in need by International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Friends of the IDF
The fifth year of the fellowship gift voucher project is now underway.###
This year too, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS), gave a Hanukkah gift to IDF soldiers.
Some 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers in need received a gift card that can be used in major chain stores across Israel to purchase food, clothing, shoes, sports, and leisure products, as they choose.
Combat soldiers each received a Hanukkah gift of NIS 1,000 ($265) and soldiers in home front units received NIS 400 ($105) each.
Who is behind the numbers?
The project, held in cooperation with the Personnel Directorate of the IDF, reaches each and every entitled soldier serving in the military.
There are 5,516 lone soldiers serving in the IDF, 40% of them in combat positions.
Every unit in the IDF has lone soldiers for example, there are around 250 serving in each of the brigades in the infantry; Kfir, Nahal, Golani, Givati and the Paratroopers.
David Ben-Gurion’s vision of the IDF as a melting pot is still being realized today its soldiers come from around the globe, with the notable inclusion of 684 new immigrants from the USA, 218 from France, 461 from Russia, and 270 from Ukraine.
In addition to the lone soldiers, there are 4,535 serving soldiers who are entitled to family payments, 1,665 of them in combat positions.
The scale of the 2011 project is almost NIS 6 million (over $1.6 million), and the total investment in the project to-date, including previous years, is around NIS 30 million (over $8 million).
“The economic difficulties experienced by large parts of Israel’s population also affect the soldiers of the IDF," says Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of IFCJ. "Military service is hard enough, and this burden is even greater for soldiers whose families are suffering economic hardship.
"Committed to helping all citizens of Israel experiencing poverty and privation, the IFJC is also enlisting to help these soldiers. We are proud to support those who choose, despite difficulties at home, to enlist and contribute to the defense of the state of Israel.”
According to FIDF National Director Major General (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, “FIDF is committed to helping and supporting the wellbeing of IDF soldiers and their families.
"The Fellowship voucher project enables us to give a unique and necessary Hanukkah gift to this group of soldiers, who choose, against all the odds, to serve, contribute and give to the state of Israel. FIDF, together with the IFJC, salute and admire them for their courageous mission.”
Major General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, says: “The true advantage of the IDF is found in the people who form it. Our ability to provide for them a supportive environment and optimal conditions for their service is an important factor in realizing the potential of their human resource.”
“These soldiers are the pioneers of today," adds Avigdor Kahalani, chairman of AWIS. "We have a great deal of respect for their moral strength in stepping up to serve in the ranks of the IDF.
"We are grateful to the IFCJ and FIDF which, together with us, support the soldiers of the IDF throughout the year.”