Family opens new home in Sgt. Shiloni’s honor six years after his death

It will be the third home for religious lone soldiers and will house five men from Israel and across the world.

Beit Almog Shiloni (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Beit Almog Shiloni
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
With the start of the new year, a new home for religious lone soldiers will soon open its doors in Modi’in, with five men from Israel and around the world calling it home.
The home, named Beit Almog Shiloni, will open on January 1, 2021.
It is the third home to be opened in honor of Sgt. Almog Shiloni – a commander in the Israel Air Force’s “Palgat HaNegev” unit, part of the religious Netzah Yehuda battalion – who was killed in a terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Hahagana Railway Station in November 2014.
When Almog drafted, 17 of the 57 soldiers in his unit were lone soldiers, his father, Yossi, recounted.
“It was there where he learned that there were those who left everything to come and serve the country. Almog never stopped talking about them and even brought them home for dinners,” Yossi said.
“At the base they called him ‘aba Almog,’” he said. “There are so many stories about how he cared for them and what he did on base for them. He never rested and always cared for lone soldiers and made sure they were okay. After he was killed, at his shiva thousands came, including
lone soldiersThey didn’t speak, but their eyes spoke and were saying, what now, who is going to help us?”
It was then that Yossi knew he had to help, and within five months the first home for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) lone soldiers opened in Modi’in. Since then, 20 lone soldiers have made Beit Almog Shiloni their home.
They then opened a three-bedroom home in September of last year for four religious female soldiers from abroad. The new home is a five-bedroom apartment located on top of the home for the female lone soldiers and will be rented for the next three to four years.
The home already has one bed taken by a lone soldier from France, who is set to serve in the same unit as Almog. The other four beds will be filled by the time the home opens.
“It’s his home for three years, his bed, his closet with his clothes. I want them to feel like this is his room, his home. I could easily put two soldiers in one room, but I wanted to make sure that each one feels at home, for three years,” Shiloni said. And more lone soldiers keep coming.
“There have been a lot of calls and it’s not possible to say there’s no room,” Shiloni said, adding that in a few years they will open a new home for 180 lone soldiers that will be built on a 6 dunam plot of land given to them by the city of Modi’in.
We can’t stop, we need to continue to provide to the lone soldiers, Shiloni said. “
BUT IT’S not only a roof over their heads, the lone soldiers are provided with free driving lessons, English courses, preparation courses for matriculation testing and more. And once they are discharged, Beit Almog Shiloni cares for them, providing work training and more.
There are also host families who live in the neighborhood who will attend their ceremonies and invite them for Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
“Our troops are really spoiled by the community, they get everything they want and more,” Shiloni said.
Though the coronavirus has put a dent in their fundraising capabilities, the home continues to provide for the lone soldiers, even helping with transportation to and from the home to the bases where they serve.
There are some 3,000 ultra-Orthodox soldiers in the IDF and many are shunned and disowned by their families and communities for serving in the military.
Elisha, a lone soldier from Jerusalem, has been living in one of the homes opened up by the Shiloni family since he joined the IDF six months ago. He will live there until the end of his service in two years.
Elisha, who has been on his own since the age of 15, worked for four years before he decided to serve in the IDF. He wanted something more meaningful, and the Israeli military was a great option.
But, he didn’t tell his family that he was going to serve in the IDF. And while they know now, “they won’t let me come home until after I finish my service.”
“I’m serving where Almog Shiloni served and all the commanders knew of him and the home. They recommended that I stay there,” he said, adding that after a short interview arranged by his commanders, “they told me, ‘okay, from tomorrow you can stay here.’”
Elisha lives with four other lone soldiers.
“They always say that lone soldiers are missing things, but the home makes sure I’m never missing anything,” he said. “For the four years before I drafted, I never had anyone. But here I never feel alone, it’s a family that always looks out for me, that really loves me.”
And to others who find themselves in his position, Elisha has one message: Don’t give up.
“Be strong, don’t fall,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re alone you think you won’t ever find your way. I know a lot of people who gave up and fell into drugs... but be strong. Don’t give up.”