The Shmooze

Thanksgiving Reaches the Israel Defense Forces

By Nathan Jeffay

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It turns out that the Thanksgiving tradition reached the Israel Defense Forces.

An organization that cares for so-called lone soldiers — i.e. soldiers who made aliyah without their parents — prepared Thanksgiving dinner for 200 people in Tel Aviv.

And it wasn’t only U.S. expats who were invited, but also soldiers from 13 other countries. They all received special leave from duty to attend. And they all got to watch the Patriots-Lions football game projected on a large screen.

“We want to give the soldiers a feeling of family and community. It’s our job to help them feel welcome and connected here,” US-born Joshua Flaster, a former lone soldier and today director of the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin, which ran the Thanksgiving event, said in a statement. “It can be tough at times being a lone soldier — beyond your service in the army, there are social and emotional aspects that are often overlooked. When I was serving, I always had a hard time knowing I was missing out on holidays and family occasions back home.”

Michael Levin was a Philadelphia-born soldier who was killed aged 21 during the Second Lebanon War of 2006 — and who adored Thanksgiving. “He would make it to a meal, if he could get out of the army,” his mother, Harriet Levin, recalled. “It was a day he always loved growing up.”


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