Every year before the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the LIBI Fund sends out thousands of food packages and vouchers to IDF soldiers to ensure that they have enough food to eat. LIBI, which is the military unit entrusted with accepting and supplying donations to IDF soldiers, specifically focuses on the holiday seasons. The organization reaches thousands of soldiers, allowing them to enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful holiday.
During the holidays, when soldiers go on leave from base and must fend for themselves in terms of food and supplies, lone soldiers – IDF soldiers without family in Israel, usually immigrants – and soldiers from low-income families get hit hardest. No holiday season is tougher than the time around the Jewish New Year, when three important holidays fall within close proximity of each other: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
The cost of food and the religious items needed for the holidays can be prohibitive to a soldier whose only income is a modest monthly stipend. The problem is compounded for soldiers who do not have families providing for them.
The LIBI Fund steps in each year to give these soldiers the supplies they need, enabling them to celebrate the holidays in proper Jewish style. LIBI itself is funded by donations large and small, from private donors to city councils.
This year, its supporters include the City Council of Holon, which is organizing an ongoing food and gift donation for soldiers, and the Israeli First Lady, Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose fundraising campaign has become an annual tradition.
This holiday season, Netanyahu has engineered her largest-ever donation to soldiers. She has raised 550,000 NIS for lone soldiers and soldiers from disadvantaged communities. Netanyahu expects the sum, which is almost double last year’s fundraising total of 350,000 NIS, to continue to grow in the coming years. This is the third year in a row that Netanyahu has raised funds for soldiers who come from difficult financial backgrounds.
“I am very happy to see all of the soldiers here in what is becoming a yearly ritual,” Netanyahu said. “Last year when I saw the letter from the combat soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge, stating that they did not have enough money for food for the holidays, I said that we cannot allow this to happen. So we went out and raised 350,000 NIS. This number continues to grow,” Netanyahu said happily. “We owe these soldiers our lives and our peace of mind.”
Netanyahu, who herself is the mother of a combat soldier currently serving in the military, said that every disadvantaged soldier was like her own child. “I feel that I am not a private mother, but the mother of everyone here,” she said. “The only thing we want is that each of you can return home to your families in peace and that you all have enough food for the holidays and beyond.”
The money will be distributed this week to thousands of soldiers by the LIBI Fund in the form of vouchers with which they can buy food in time for Rosh Hashana, which falls on Monday, September 14, and Tuesday, September 15.
Dr. John Grossman, the head of LIBI USA, told Breaking Israel News that making sure the soldiers are able to celebrate the holidays is a top priority for LIBI. “These soldiers risk their lives every day to ensure the continuing existence of the Jewish state,” he said. “Each and every one of them should be able to celebrate the Jewish holidays with joy and pride. LIBI wants to make sure that happens.”