This year’s Lone Soldier Project Hanukkah greeting campaign kicked off earlier this month to provide an opportunity for the Phoenix Jewish community to personally thank lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces. 

Dr. Michael Cohen, volunteer coordinator of the EVJCC Lone Soldier Project, and members of his committee are visiting students at synagogue religious schools and day schools, as well as adult groups, to spread awareness of lone soldiers and to collect Hanukkah greetings that will be delivered to the soldiers before Hanukkah.

Next week, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, before the Terrific Tuesdays session, Dr. Cohen will speak about lone soldiers and attendees will have an opportunity to write their Hanukkah greetings. 

Hanukkah greeting forms are available in the East Valley JCC lobby and the letters can be dropped off in the Lone Soldier Project letter collection box in the lobby through Nov. 29, 2019.

Last year, nearly 400 Hanukkah letters and drawings from members of the Valley’s Jewish community were delivered to lone soldier centers in Israel to be distributed to lone soldiers during Hanukkah. 

Lone soldiers are young adults from around the world who volunteer to serve in the IDF and have no family in Israel.  About 7,000 lone soldiers currently serve in the IDF, with about 55 percent coming from Jewish communities around the world, including the United States. There are also Israeli-born lone soldiers who are orphans, homeless or victims of abuse, as well as those who have left their ultra-Orthodox communities to serve in the IDF.

The Lone Soldier Project of the East Valley JCC is part of an effort to help provide emotional support to these soldiers, whose challenges include facing the extreme physical and psychological demands of the IDF, learning Hebrew, living in a foreign culture and experiencing loneliness from being so far away from home.  

Holidays are particularly lonely and holiday greetings and letters of appreciation help them enjoy holidays and re-energize them to meet the constant demands of defending Israel and its people.

Learn more about the Lone Soldier Project here.