The East Valley JCC’s Lone Soldier Project is currently scheduling lone soldier workshops for Jewish day schools and religious schools.

Through this youth education program, a Lone Soldier Project volunteer will visit a school, teach an age-appropriate lesson about lone soldiers and offer an opportunity for students to write or draw Hanukkah greetings to lone soldiers currently serving in Israel.

These free workshops are available from Sept. 1 to Nov. 25, 2019 and can be presented in individual classroom settings or as a full-school assembly. Logistics will be personalized at each school to address unique features and needs.

Last year, 15 organizations, including day schools, religious schools and adult organizations, participated in the Hanukkah Greeting campaign, resulting in 400 letters that were sent to lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

The EVJCC’s Lone Soldier Project has two major missions: To support the needs of active duty lone soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and to enhance the Phoenix Jewish community’s awareness about the important role lone soldiers play in defending Israel. The Youth Education Program aims to address both missions.

The Hanukkah Greeting Campaign accomplishes several important goals.

 • Supplements a general awareness of Israel with knowledge about the IDF

 • Highlights the dedication and courage of these young Jewish volunteers from all over the world and of Israelis who have no immediate family to support them (such as abused youth, orphans and ultra-Orthodox men who are disowned by their families after joining the IDF)

 • Provides warm holiday greetings and messages of appreciation for lone soldiers when they are far away from their families

 • Offers a potential mitzvah project opportunity for those approaching their bar/ bat mitzvah.

Souzan Blumberg, a Lone Soldier Project volunteer, describes a workshop she led for school-age children at the EVJCC spring break camp, which included a discussion of the “selfless commitment and difficult training and job of lone soldiers using interesting visual aids” and a time for questions.

“Then we engaged the children to write letters or draw pictures to be sent to these lone soldiers in Israel. By the smiles on the children’s faces, I could tell it was a fun activity for the campers. A letter was also sent home to their parents explaining and including them in the project. As I looked around the classroom that day, I realized this educational activity involved all generations. We seniors were teaching and inspiring children, teen counselors and parents … and our caring letters would connect the EVJCC Jews to Jews in Israel.”

Schools can contact Dr. Michael Cohen to schedule a Lone Soldier Project workshop or for more information: lonesoldiers@evjcc.orgor 480-895-4660. The Lone Soldier Project is also looking for volunteer presenters.

To learn more about the Lone Soldier Project, click here.