Throughout the State of Israel, IDF soldiers are treated like family and looked after by grateful residents. They are not viewed merely as anonymous military figures, but as sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. Israelis deeply appreciate the sacrifice made by IDF officers, and this gratitude is especially pronounced around Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day). This profound sense of gratitude was compounded this year because of the additional sacrifices made by IDF soldiers confronting the Coronavirus, and is what motivated Meir Panim’s Or Akiva branch to organize special meals for soldiers this week.
The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders had already wreaked havoc on Meir Panim’s normal activities taking place at the Or Akiva branch. They had been forced to bring food and services to the people rather than welcoming the people into their facilities. With more than one million Israelis having lost their jobs in recent weeks, Meir Panim has been preparing and serving three times as many meals as usual. Despite this increase, Or Akiva branch manager Ilanit Hafuta prepared a beautiful meal for members of the IDF Home Front as a token of appreciation and admiration.
The Home Front soldiers had been stationed in Or Akiva for more than a month and were unable to return to their homes in order to avoid catching the virus or spreading it to others. As a result, Hafuta felt it was important to demonstrate to the soldiers just how appreciated their dedication was.
“We are so blessed to be able to provide meals to not only Israel’s neediest citizens, but IDF soldiers and officers as well” said Hafuta. “Our staff has been able to make room in their hearts and in their schedules to take care of those who deserve a little extra care at this time.”