Ahead of Jewish New Year, YAHAD sees rise in need of support by IDF troops

"The amount of soldiers who are in need of these donations has increased. The [corona] situation has made it so that more and more soldiers are in need, on top of those who we knew would need help.”

Lone soldier (photo credit: REUTERS)
Lone soldier
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, YAHAD-United for Israel’s Soldiers has identified an increase in demand for financial assistance for lone soldiers and soldiers from low-income families due to the economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Usually before the holidays, we see a rise in need, but especially now because of corona,” YAHAD CEO Yaron Be’ery told The Jerusalem Post. “This year, we are seeing a change for the worse. The amount of soldiers who are in need of these donations has increased. The [corona] situation has made it so that more and more soldiers are in need, on top of those who we knew would need help.”
Since the coronavirus outbreak, YAHAD has distributed beds, washing machines, refrigerators and baby products to low-income families. In addition, there has been a record demand for financial support by soldiers in need.
According to the agency, the funds for the soldiers, which will be distributed over the course of the week, will help them and their families purchase basic food products for Rosh Hashanah.
That rise in need has seen the organization raise NIS 8.5 million to be distributed to lone soldiers and soldiers in need in the form of a NIS 600 gift card to be used in supermarkets, Be’ery said.
“Sixty percent of lone soldiers who received the gift cards have already used them, whereas in the past, they would have used them a month or two later,” he told the Post.
In previous years, only those who had been recognized by the military as lone soldiers or those who came from low-income families were expected to have this need. This year, YAHAD has expanded its criteria, and those who are not officially recognized in this category by the IDF will also receive the gift card.
More than 12,000 soldiers will receive help from YAHAD over the High Holy Days and Sukkot.
For the first time, lone soldiers who were discharged from the IDF over the past year and are in need of financial assistance can also reach out to the organization, Be’ery told the Post.
With many soldiers, including lone soldiers who have no family support in the country, discharged less than six months before the coronavirus pandemic, they do not qualify for unemployment benefits from the state because they have not accumulated enough time as employed citizens.
“We’ve understood the situation is different,” Be’ery said, adding: “It’s not a question of if, but when, we go into another lockdown. We will make sure that every soldier will get a holiday meal and the holiday atmosphere as best as we can give.”
YAHAD has been playing a central role throughout the COVID-19 crisis, including using an Olga Recreation Village hospitality facility as a coronavirus isolation center for lone soldiers and raising funds to purchase medical equipment, such as defibrillators, and goods for soldiers in isolation, such as PlayStation kits, hygiene and sweets.
Through the organization’s “Friendship Fund” project, soldiers can receive financial assistance to purchase furniture, electrical appliances and more.
The Defense and Finance ministries will also allocate NIS 10m. to support some 2,000 discharged lone soldiers ahead of Rosh Hashanah. The soldiers, who were previously eligible for financial aid from the Defense Ministry, will receive a third financial-aid package of NIS 4,000.
The previous two packages were distributed during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, and the discharged lone soldiers now will have received a total sum of NIS 12,000.
According to the outline developed by the Defense and Finance ministries and implemented by the Released Soldiers Fund, the amount of the deposit will automatically be wired to the bank account that was in use at the time of their service. If the bank account has been changed or closed, they can receive the funds at the Post Office.
The Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.