Hear Bonnie Holtzberg Rosenbaum, Community Director of the Lone Soldier Center, in our interview on BITE SIZE with Yoni Pollak.
Listen to the Interview
Here are some of the “Interview Highlights”
Who was Michael Levine?
- The Center was named after Michael Levine, a lone soldier from Pennsylvania who died while serving in the 2nd Lebanon War. When the war broke out, Michael was actually at home in Pennsylvania and did not need to return to fight – but he felt he had the obligation to serve along with his fellow soldiers and he requested to come back to Israel. Within 24 hours after he returned to the battle field, Michael was killed in the line of duty.
- At his funeral, his family was in disbelief that thousands of people who never even knew Michael personally, came to pay their respects.
- After Michael’s death, his friends wanted to continue his vision of helping the lone soldiers – who encounter certain challenges because of the nature of being a soldier without local family support. These soldiers don’t have a family to come home to, a place to eat a warm home cooked meal or place to do their laundry.
- His friends & family decided to establish a center which will be a place that these lone soldiers can have a warm “home” to come to. The center has grown over the years and now has multiple locations and programs.
About the Center
- The center creates an atmosphere of being a “home” for the soldiers.
- It has a kitchen where volunteers come in and prepare meals or baked goods for the soldiers. It is so appreciated by the soldiers, when they walk into the center with the smell of freshly baked cookies or delicious soup! It is so meaningful to them that people volunteer their time to ease their “burden” of being a lone soldier.
- There are laundry rooms where the soldiers can do their laundry.
- The center provides many different services for the soldiers.
What is a Lone Soldier?
- Category #1 – A foreigner – A lone soldier is anyone that comes from a foreign country who has decided to serve in the Israeli army. These soldiers come from all over the world – Australia, South Africa, South America, and from all over North America – from Florida to Missouri to California.
- Category #2 – Israelis – Soldiers from within Israel that are either orphans or kids-at-risk – who are no longer with their family, or soldiers that come from charedi families where they are no longer connected to their families.
Where are the centers located?
- In Jerusalem, the center is located at 51 Yafo Street.
- In Tel Aviv.
- Besides “Centers” the Lone Soldier Organization has recently opened other “housing” for the soldiers.
- Arnona House – 40 soldiers are housed there.
- In Mekor Chaim, the first house for women lone soldiers was opened.
- A new apartment on King George was opened to as an “emergency 48 hour housing” for soldiers who just need a short-term place to stay – to rest up for a few hours before they have to return to the army.
Volunteer Opportunities – for locals and tourists
- The army is no longer letting guests visit the army bases. as an alternative, volunteering at the Lone Soldier Center is a great opportunity to interact with soldiers. This is a great activity for a bar/bat mitzvah trip activity.
- At the Arnona house – families can come and cook a complete shabbat for the soldiers. Ingredients are either provided by the center or families can volunteer to bring them. (Dunkin Hines cake mixes are always appreciated)
- Families can cook and host barbecues for the soldiers.
- Donation projects are welcomed. Recently a girl, for her bat mitzvah project, raised money to donate a desperately needed refrigerator for the center.
- About 1000 lone soldiers attend the annual Yom HaAtzmaut Barbecue at Gan Sacher and many volunteers come to help serve as well as thousands at the Thanksgiving Dinner in Tel Aviv.
- 40 communities in Israel participate in a rotation for shabbat meal preparations for the lone soldiers. About 720 home cooked meals are served monthly to the lone soldiers.