Celebrating the holidays at home
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, EL AL, members of EL AL’s frequent flyer club and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS) have joined forces to fly hundreds of lone soldiers to celebrate the holidays with their families.
Thousands of lone soldiers whose families live abroad currently serve in the IDF. Throughout the week the soldiers are in the army framework along with the rest of the members of their unit, but over the weekend when their friends return home to their families they are left to spend Shabbat alone. Out of our sincere appreciation for the soldiers’ service despite the difficulties and loneliness, and in order to make things easier for them, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, EL AL, the members of EL AL’s frequent flyer club and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS) have decided to come together to fund flights for hundreds of lone soldiers so they can spend the holidays with their families abroad. This is part of the Missing Home project, run by AWIS and the IDF’s Manpower Directorate Unit, which flies lone soldiers to see their families abroad.
As part of the campaign, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and EL AL have begun a campaign to donate frequent flyer points for the soldiers’ flights. For each point donated by a member, EL AL will award a point (up to 200,000 points) and the Fellowship will pay the remaining cost for travel to the soldiers’ final destination, and will also cover landing fees and medical insurance. The goal: to fly over 300 lone soldiers during the upcoming holiday season.
The Fellowship is the organization that has made the largest contribution towards underprivileged and lone soldiers in the IDF. The Fellowship invests 10 million NIS each year towards supplying basic goods and services to underprivileged and lone soldiers through gift cards for clothing and food, and “battalion commander funds” that allow commanders to aid families of lone soldiers in financial difficulty. The fund also invests approximately 4 million NIS each year to fund scholarships for discharged combat soldiers from low socio-economic backgrounds, supports the Amir program for integrating Ethiopian immigrants into meaningful positions in the IDF, and more.
President of the Fellowship. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein: “The lone soldiers in the IDF serve as role models for Israeli citizens and the entire Jewish world. These soldiers have chosen to serve and defend us all despite the enormous difficulty and the lack of a supporting family here in Israel. We hope that all soldiers will be able to enjoy the upcoming holidays with their families and promise that we, along with our partners, will do all it takes to achieve this.”
EL AL CEO, Eliezer Shkedi: “EL AL is pleased to participate in assisting lone soldiers, who came to Israel alone in order to serve the country, to fly to their families in order to celebrate Israel’s holidays. We are proud to take part in this project along with the Fellowship and AWIS, with which EL AL collaborates on many projects.”
Mr. Avigdor Kahalani, Chairman of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS): “AWIS helps organize flights for approximately 1,000 lone soldiers to visit their families abroad. It is important to us to assist those who hav left their families and all that was familiar to them, and came here to endanger their lives in defense of the country. We appreciate and admire the year-round activities of the Fellowship in its support of lone soldiers and those who are economically disadvantaged in the IDF as well as EL AL’s mobilization to assist in providing flights to lone soldiers.”
The Fellowship is the largest philanthropic fund in the country that works to strengthen Israel’s social resilience. The fund, which operates thanks to generous donations from over 1.2 million non-Jewish lovers of Israel throughout the world, focuses on populations in distress and has donated over 2 billion NIS to a variety of projects in the fields of welfare, Aliyah absorption, and security in times of emergency in Israel.
EL AL is Israel’s national airline. In 2012, EL AL flew 4 million flights and has direct flights to 38 locations worldwide and many additional locations throughout the world through partnership agreements with other companies. Today EL AL operates 37 airplanes. (www.elal.co.il)
The Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers is the leading umbrella organization caring for Israeli soldiers in the fields of welfare, education and aid. In 2012, AWIS spent 175 million NIS on projects for the welfare of IDF soldiers.
To donate your frequent flyer points visit www.elal.co.il