“The soldiers I serve with are my family, and I’m sure it will be a meaningful Passover with the IDF.”
These were the words of Harel Mizrahi, a lone soldier from Seattle, Washington, who is serving in the Nahal Infantry Brigade and will remain in service over the first part of the holiday. This is his first Jewish holiday on base away from his family since drafting into the army.
Mizrahi told The Jerusalem Post that they had worked hard over the last few days to clean their tents and make the base kosher for Passover.
“It’s been hard work,” he teased. “A lot of cleaning and the dinning hall is being cleaned for Passover too, by tomorrow [Thursday], we’ll already be eating kosher-for-Passover food.”
“My whole unit is going to spend the holiday on guard in the South, and I’m really excited to be spending Passover with the army and with my fellow soldiers who are like my family,” he said. “We’re there for each other and I’m expecting a regular Passover, aside for the fact that I will be away from my family.”
“I do miss my family, and it is hard, but everyone struggles with this and you learn with time to overcome it,” Mizrahi said, when asked if the time away from family will be difficult.
For Mizrahi, he knows it is going to be a special holiday because “it’s a great environment and we have a lot of fun.”
“I know that my family – my mom, my dad – are sending me lots of love and kisses, and that’s all I need,” he added.
The 20-year-old soldier said he joined the IDF because of his love for Israel.
“For a year, I volunteered in south Tel Aviv with children of refugees, and with time I began to love the country, the environment and the food,” he said. “It was then that I decided I wanted to be drafted.”
On a day-to-day basis, Mizrahi begins his day with a 5 km. run. “We fix our beds and bags. Some weeks in the field, and some weeks we’re learning on base about drills.”
“At the end of each day, we discuss how they day was and we can do to improve,” he added.
He voiced that he loves being in the field the most and also how much he loves his unit. “Nahal has the best people and half of my unit were volunteers too.”
Like everything in life, Mizrahi faces challenges.
“There are hard days and weeks,” he said. “A month ago, I was doing guard duty in the rain and it was tough, even though I come from the rainy city of Seattle, but there was someone there for me.”
Mizrahi made it clear that during the hard times, there is always someone to talk to. For those thinking of joining the army as lone soldiers, Mizrahi has an important message to share.
“You’re not alone,” he said. “People call us ‘lone soldiers,’ but you’re not really a lone soldier because there is always someone there for you.”
JACOB WEINER, 22, has a similar story to tell.
He is also part of Nahal, and has been working hard with his unit to get ready for Passover and make sure everything is clean and prepared.
Weiner will also be on base for Passover, and has said that together with his unit, “we have been checking and cleaning everything. We’ve been cleaning the kitchens, our beds, our tents, and koshering everything, and we’re already eating kosher-for-Passover food.”
Asked about how he hopes to celebrate Passover while on base, he said that “we’re hopefully going to do a Seder and do everything as traditionally as possible – all the regular Passover stuff.”
Weiner said that he will be on guard for some part of the night, so he may not be able to be there for the entire Seder.
A native of Connecticut, Weiner decided after finishing college that he wanted to be in Israel.
“I finished my degree and wanted to do something more meaningful than getting a job,” he said.
“I feel at home in Israel,” said Weiner, adding that he took the plunge and was drafted in July.
“I’ve got another 14 months to go and I knew coming in it would be difficult.”
One of the highlights for him is just being in the army, “knowing that I’m doing something real.”
“It’s great meeting other soldiers, and English speakers,” Weiner said. “Also, Israelis are really appreciative of what we do.” For him, one of the toughest things is the language barrier. “Sometimes you’re up for 40 hours straight and it gets tough [to understand].”
His message to future lone soldiers is to connect with people.
“Get close to people and make friends,” Weiner said.
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