By Michael Kuttner
There are more than 6,300 lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF.
The definition of a lone soldier is someone who has no family in Israel to support them. They include new immigrants, volunteers from abroad, orphans and individuals from broken homes. At present approximately 45% are olim originating from many Jewish communities.
Another 50% are Israelis who are orphans or originate from low socio-economic backgrounds and whose families are unable to support them. A more recent trend has also seen ultra Orthodox men classified as lone soldiers because their families and communities shun them for serving in the IDF.
When most soldiers go home on leave and have their meals and laundry taken care of, lone soldiers have had to cope on their own with very limited resources. In addition to these important aspects there is also the problem of lack of social contact, loneliness and home-sickness.
To answer these critical needs lone soldier centres were established where counseling, advice and support as well as social activities are provided to those who qualify. Generous donors in many parts of the world have helped to open these centres and fund ongoing activities.
The Bolot Families of Auckland, Sydney and London have been generous supporters towards this endeavor for many years. Their latest project has been the renovation of the lounge in the lone soldiers’ house in Ibim, a small village very close to Sderot (and the Gaza border).
In the 1990’s it served as an absorption centre for Ethiopian and Russian Jews making Aliyah. Housing 80 young men and women from many countries, particularly North and South America, Ukraine and Russia, these lone soldiers have been adopted by the Sderot community.
According to a spokesperson for the Bolot Family the dedication ceremony will take place in November. In the meantime this home away from home is providing much-needed tender loving care and home comforts to the defenders of Israel who are so far away from their families.
This article was originally published on J-Wire.