Sometimes the challenges that people face do get recognized – and rewarded. Israel has many lone soldiers – boys and girls who come to serve in the Israeli army on their own. And without their parents in the country to do their laundry and cook them a meal, they are left to fend for themselves. Recently, when 20 such lone soldiers were honored as outstanding lone soldiers in a ceremony at the Kirya military headquarters, they got quite a surprise.
Their mothers, and a few fathers, walked up behind them and hugged them. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews paid for the surprise, bringing 20 mothers and three fathers to surprise their hard-working children. The parents came from Canada, the United States, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina and India.
IFCJ, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded by Rabbi Eckstein and with Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein, treated the families to a 30 minute cruise along the Tel Aviv-Jaffa coast, a steak dinner and a visit to Independence Hall. They also received (in addition to their flights, of course), spending money to go out for two more dinners and a week’s stay at the Crowne Plaza luxury hotel in the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv.
Some of the parents had amazing journeys getting to Israel. Shlomo Touthang’s mother lives in Manipur, India and he last saw her three years ago when he set out for Israel. He’s now serving in a reconnaissance unit of the Golani Brigade. It took two days for his parents, Daniel and Hoikhoneng, to reach Israel. As he said after seeing his parents, “I was so surprised and excited when I saw her on the stage. It was my dream for my mother to see me as a soldier.”
Marharyta Zaitsava from Belarus also shared details about her son, Gnadi Steinman. He is a corporal in the Teleprocessing Branch. She said, “My son couldn’t even voluntarily enroll in the army in Belarus because he had health problems. But when he went to the IDF, he felt much better, and that made me feel much better.”