Lone soldiers and friends celebrate Independence Day at Gan Sacher in Jerusalem at an event hosted by the Lone Solider Center in Memory of Michael Levine.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The smell of barbecues and beer filled the air as thousands of lone soldiers came together across Israel to celebrate the country’s 70th year of independence.
The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin hosted the largest Independence Day party especially geared toward lone soldiers, in hopes of giving them a warm and familial experience as they took time to celebrate the milestone holiday.
Two barbecues that took place in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park and in the Arca Wedding Hall at the Tel Aviv Port for around 2,000 lone soldiers were buzzing with excitement, as 400 kilograms of meat and 500 liters of beer were consumed, thanks to generous donations and a partnership with Beer Bazaar. In addition, thousands of side dishes and desserts were also prepared by communities in Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Parents of fallen lone soldiers and prominent members of the Jerusalem municipality also took part in the Sacher Park barbecue.
A large carpeted canopy was set-up while barbecues cooked and beer was served. Some chose to sit on the grass just outside the canopy while others hung Israeli flags all over the cordoned- off area – on trees, fences and the like.
Daniel, a lone soldier who is serving in the Golani Brigade, said that the organization was like his family.
Another soldier who asked to remain anonymous told The Jerusalem Post
that events like this made being a lone soldier so much easier.
“You get to meet people who are in the same situation as you from all walks of life at these events – they become your family and they make it easier for you to serve and live in the country despite being alone,” she said. “It’s not so simple – and I’m not going to say serving in the IDF has been an easy transition – but I couldn’t wish to be anywhere else. The Lone Soldier Center has been there for me throughout – it’s incredible.”
Soldiers of different ages and from different battalions and countries joined together in the celebration and also watched in awe during the F-35 flyovers by the air force.
Many of the attendees were either dressed in their IDF uniforms or in blue and white. Israeli flags also flew high and there was a relaxed and family-like atmosphere.
StandWithUs Israel CEO Michael Dickson said in a live-stream video on the organization’s Facebook page that they joined the festivities at Sacher Park “to help serve the soldiers who serve us every day of the year.”
Feige, a lone soldier originally from New Jersey who is serving in the 41st Infantry Battalion, said during the live-stream that she fell in love with Israel while vacationing in the country when she was 17. “I realized this was my place; this is my home and I want to defend my home – I want to be a part of the IDF.”
She connected with the Lone Soldier Center when she decided to enlist; now it’s her sanctuary. “Coming home after a long, hard week on base – which can sometimes be three weeks on base – it’s just so nice to be able to go to the center.
It’s like a family – I can relax there. They organize Shabbat meals, and the times everyone is with their family, the Lone Soldier Center is my family.”
As the afternoon wore on, more lone soldiers arrived and joined in the fun – relaxing, meeting new people, chatting and celebrating in true Israeli style as Sacher Park buzzed with action and excitement.