Ahead of the holiday of Passover, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is sponsoring gift coupons of $139.12 for 8,500 Israeli lone soldiers and soldiers from low-income families, all of which add up to a combined value of more than $1.11 million.
An Israel Defense Forces lone soldier is someone serving who has no immediate family in Israel.
The initiative – launched in cooperation with Yachad Lema’an Hachayal, an organization under the Israeli Defense Ministry’s umbrella that funnels donations to Israeli soldiers and military units – is dedicated this year to the memory of the late Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder and former president of The Fellowship.
The gift coupons, which are valid in the Shufersal supermarket chain, are aimed at giving the soldiers the opportunity to purchase food, clothing, footwear, sports apparel, electronics and other items. The 8,500 soldiers have received necessary referrals for eligibility from respective IDF units.
Among those receiving the gift coupon are 6581 lone soldiers, 54 percent of whom are serving as combat soldiers or as soldiers providing combat support.
Fifty-five percent of the lone soldiers who are entitled to a coupon come from 76 different countries between them all. Of the countries of origin with the largest number of lone soldiers, 882 are from the United States, 596 from the Ukraine and 479 from Russia.
“The IDF is the people’s army, and as such it is not immune to dealing with the social challenges that characterize Israel,” said Yael Eckstein, president of The Fellowship.
“Every year, thousands of soldiers from low-income families and thousands of lone soldiers who have come to Israel by themselves in order to enlist in the IDF, serve in the Israeli army,” she continued. “Together with the army and partners such as Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and Yachad Lema’an Hachayal, The Fellowship has developed a series of unique solutions through which soldiers receive assistance as part of an effort to enable them to serve in tranquility.”