SHEFAYIM, Israel, A record 5,500 “Lone Soldiers” – Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers with no immediate family in Israel – gathered Thursday at Israel’s largest waterpark, just outside of Tel Aviv, for a day of rest and recreation. The biggest-ever “Fun Day” was hosted by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) in partnership with the IDF and Yachad Le’maan Ha’chayal (The Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers and The LIBI Fund).
There are some 6,400 Lone Soldiers from 80 countries serving in the IDF today, and about 880 of them are American. FIDF cares for all Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF through the Lone Soldiers Program, which supports them financially, socially, and emotionally during and after their challenging military service. FIDF also sponsors flights for Lone Soldiers to visit their families and friends in their countries of origin.
“The Lone Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who choose to leave their lives behind and come to serve in the IDF with a strong sense of mission and mutual responsibility act in the most noble way,” said FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. “It is an expression of solidarity and Zionism – and represents one of the greatest contributions of world Jewry to the State of Israel, both from those who come to serve, and also from their parents who instilled these values in them.”
Klifi-Amir added, “Military service brings numerous challenges and struggles, and without the support system of those closest to the soldier, it’s almost impossible to succeed. As a parent, I personally experienced many days of fear and worry. I ask myself how American parents must feel when their children serve in one of the most sensitive regions in the world, thousands of miles away from home, when they get information from the media about the situation in Israel. That’s why we are also committed to providing these parents of Lone Soldiers the necessary support.”
The FIDF “Fun Day” at the Shefayim Water Park just north of Tel Aviv benefited Lone Soldiers from all IDF units. In addition to the park’s many attractions, the “Fun Day” featured a pool party with leading Israeli DJ Eran Barnea, gift care packages, an all-day smorgasbord of barbeque and desserts, and special programming by Israeli radio personality Didi Harari and singers Static and Ben El Tavori. The Lone Soldiers also received essential information about life after their military service, including information about the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants college scholarships to Israeli combat veterans of modest means.
In addition to the 5,500 Lone Soldiers, IDF unit commanders, high-ranking officers, 1,000 IDF social welfare non-commissioned officers, and FIDF supporters also attended the festivities to meet and personally thank these brave men and women in uniform for serving despite numerous challenges.
- Fellowship and FIDF Provide $1.5M in Passover Gift Cards to IDF Soldiers
- Young Leaders from Across US Will Visit Israel to Meet IDF Soldiers
- Over 200 NY Real Estate Leaders Gather at FIDF Benefit Supporting Israeli Soldiers
- FIDF National Gala in NY Raises Record $33M to Support Israeli Soldiers
- Friends of the IDF (FIDF) National NY Gala Dinner Salutes Israel’s Brave Soldiers