One of the perks of Gather the Jews is that I get to force really cool people to have G-chat conversations with me during the day. One such really cool person is former Jewish Girl of the Week Ricki B. M. (RBM). Ricki is hosting a party/happy hour TONIGHT to promote her newest Jewish endeavor: The Lone Soldier Project. Hope to see you there.
SR: What is the Lone Soldier Project?
RBM: The Lone Soldier Project serves as the voice of the 5,700 young men and women from around the world who leave their homes and families to serve as Lone Soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces each year. The goal of the LSP is to spread awareness of Lone Soldiers – who they are, what they do, and how we can support – to already existing groups, organizations, and communities. The Lone Soldier Project works in partnership with The Lone Soldier Center, an organization in Jerusalem that provides on-the-ground support for soldiers – in addition to mentors, furniture, Shabbat and holiday meals, and a physical presence of encouragement at milestone ceremonies in each soldier’s course of duty.
SR: Forgive me. I’m kinda slow. To clarify, the ‘Lone Soldiers’ aren’t soldiers necessarily without families, but without families living in Israel?
RBM: Yep. Their immediate families are not on the ground with them in Israel.
SR: How did you get the project started?
RBM: The preliminary idea to help Lone Soldiers began as an impact project from the 2011 DC Birthright Alumni Leadership Mission. While in Israel, we had Shabbat lunch with Lone Soldiers and asked them about their experiences serving in the army without having their family on the ground with them in Israel. Many soldiers said their friends became family. However, one soldier said that he really noticed the absence of his family during package delivery when his Israeli peers often received packages of items they desperately needed on the front lines and he most often did not. The conversation presented not only the needs of Lone Soldiers who voluntarily join the army to defend Israel, but also the ability we have to support them from afar.
SR: What item have you sent that has been a big hit?
RBM: Helmet flashlights. We have received tremendously positive feedback and appreciation from Lone Soldiers and want to get more helmet flashlights to them as soon as we can!
SR: You have a happy hour tonight at 6:30 pm at Tabaq Bistro (1336 U Street). Sell me on it. Pretend I’m popular and have lots of other social options. What will be especially fun about your event?
RBM: Entry is free and there will be happy hour specials all night. Most importantly, there will be opportunities to write notes of support to and sign posters for Lone Soldiers currently serving in Israel.
SR: Will one Sarah Arenstein be there?
RBM: You’ll have to come to find out!