Passengers of El Al and Arkia airlines were surprised on their Sunday flights to destinations across the globe to find festive packages intended for the holiday of Purim on their seats when boarding. A flight attendant has also announced on the loudspeaker that they are welcome to take these packages and give them to any other Jews in the destination they are traveling to - in honor of Purim.
An Israeli organization is the one who distributed these thousands of packages from Israeli Jews to Jews around the world for the holiday of Purim, in a creative and refreshing initiative. The SonShine organization is running its Jewish Connection Project this week, which includes distributing 7,500 mishloah manot (gifts of food that are ritually sent to friends, relatives or neighbors on the Holiday of Purim) packages to passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport who are flying abroad before Purim.
With the assistance of flight attendants and the help of the organization's volunteers, these Mishlochei Manot were distributed to El Al and Arkia airline passengers before they boarded the plane. Passengers were asked to pass along their Mishloach Manot to a fellow Jew at their destination. Thousands of Israelis were able to purchase these packages online for a symbolic price of NIS 18.
These thousands of packages are intended to “strengthen connections within the Jewish world,” according to the SonShine organization.
Jewish Connection Project
The Jewish Connection Project is a non-profit that was established in memory of Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah, Israeli teenagers who were murdered by terrorists in 2014, after being kidnapped.
This initiative is celebrating its fifth consecutive year and has collaborated for the first time with Arkia, El-Al, Tamam food company and the World Zionist Organization (WZO).
"It is precisely now, when the people of Israel are facing difficult challenges, that we decided to increase our unity and bring additional light to the discourse,” said Bat Galim Shaer, founder and CEO of the SonShine organization who is the mother of Gil-Ad. She added that “the unity of our people is currently facing a difficult test. We have always known how to unite against external enemies and today we wish to remind everyone that it is forbidden to let internal discord, however important it may be, divide us from within.”
"It is precisely now, when the people of Israel are facing difficult challenges, that we decided to increase our unity and bring additional light to the discourse.”Bat Galim Shaer
Shaer explained that this organization was established when her son and his friends were kidnapped and murdered nine years ago, “we received a strong hug from our brothers in the Diaspora,” and that “since then we have been working to strengthen the bond between Israelis and Jews around the world. Israel is a country where every Jew has a place and a holiday like Purim, which all Jews celebrate with great joy, is an opportunity to remind us of that.”
Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman of the WZO, who partnered in this year’s project agreed with Shaer. He added that "we are one people and strengthening the relationship with our brothers in the Diaspora is one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” he exclaimed.
“The warm embrace our brothers in the Diaspora will receive in the form of a sweet package of mishloah manot will give them an Israeli feeling. I hope for and look forward to strengthening the unity of the people of Israel. We are brothers, whether we live in Israel, France, or Australia,” he concluded.
Nearly half of the participants and 60% of young people feel a great distance between Israelis and Jews of the diaspora, according to a recently published study by the Jewish People Policy Institute.
71% of young Israelis who participated in the study agreed with that statement. Most participants said that Israelis do not know Diaspora Jewry and its needs.