April 19, 2024
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Eight Nights of Chanukah Parties for Israel’s Soldiers

Over 2,000 years ago, Jewish warriors called Maccabees liberated their people from the Seleucid Empire and protected them. Now, in the modern state of Israel, the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are charged with defending the Jewish people against those who wish to harm them.

Yashar LaChayal, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian support to IDF soldiers, wanted to do something special this Chanukah to show appreciation and love for the ones who ensure that civilians can observe and celebrate the holiday in security. The organization has built and maintains 14 “Warm Corner” rest stations throughout the country. The Warm Corners are small buildings at the entrances of towns within range of IDF patrols. They provide a warm, comfortable environment for soldiers to relax while on break. Food and beverages are supplied for free, and the Warm Corners are air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.

Over the course of Chanukah, Yashar LaChayal hosted candle-lighting parties for soldiers at eight of its Warm Corners, one for every night of Chanukah. Beverages and food including the traditional sufganiyot (Chanukah donuts) were served to soldiers from the area, and residents of each town came together to celebrate with them and show their appreciation for all they do to defend Israel. At each Warm Corner, the Chanukah menorah was lit by a soldier.

Some of the parties were sponsored by communities in the United States—the same donors who had funded construction of specific Warm Corners. The East Brunswick Jewish Center in New Jersey hosted soldiers at its rest stations in Einav and Psagot, and Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck hosted one in Ateret. The Young Israel of Holliswood sponsored a party at the Warm Corner in Ma’ale Hever, and the Florida-based Helping Israel Fund funded one in Nokdim.

Yashar LaChayal hopes to replicate the Chanukah campaign in future years and considers it to have been an amazing success. As one of the soldiers at the Warm Corner in Kiryat Arba said, “Thank you Yashar LaChayal! We had an amazing time, with all the dancing and the food. This all really warms our hearts. Happy Chanukah!”

By Amichai Bacharach

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