Many people donate to support Israel’s army (IDF) with hope that their contribution makes a difference to the safety and welfare of its soldiers. However, it is not always clear how one’s support makes a difference. To Max Kresch, a lone soldier (soldier without family in Israel) from Detroit, Michigan, a gift from one IDF organization made all the difference in the world.
Kresch was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. The oldest of four children, he came to Israel in 2014 following his high school graduation to study Bible for a year. Within a few months, Kresch decided to change his life forever. He chose to become an Israeli citizen and join the Israel Defense Force (IDF) as a lone soldier.
“I did not plan to move to Israel,” Kresch told Breaking Israel News. “However, I knew that someday I’d want to live in the Holy Land. I thought about the Israelis who must fulfill mandatory army service to protect the land from our enemies within and without and that it wouldn’t be fair for me to just come and live here without doing my part.”
Israel has a “Law of Return” which provides any Jew worldwide the right to live in Israel and gain citizenship. “As a Jew, I knew that I could freely relocate to Israel without necessarily serving in its army. But I wanted to do what is expected of any Israeli citizen. I didn’t want to only live here. I also wanted to be part of its army,” Kresch continued.
Kresch has been serving in the Israeli army as a medic for over a year. As a lone soldier, he is entitled to certain benefits, like visiting his family in America for 30 days each year over his three years of service.
“I visited family over the Passover holiday,” Kresch told Breaking Israel News. “To be honest, it was difficult to come back to my army service. It was easy to get used to life in America, being with my family, who was spoiling me, and being with friends I grew up with. It was a hard adjustment to go back to the army. Yet it was also nice. In America, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything meaningful. In Israel, I have a real purpose. No matter where I am, I know that I am doing something important.”
When Kresch returned to his base, his commander greeted him with an impressive package from Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, the only Israeli government and Ministry of Defense-sanctioned organization providing for IDF soldier welfare through donations. Yahad provides for the needs of all of Israel’s soldiers as well as being a “family away from family” for lone soldiers.
Before Passover, Yahad distributed thousands of gift packages to lone soldiers. Since Kresch had gone to his family in America for the holiday, his gift was waiting for him upon his return.
“I was going through a hard transition time, returning to Israel and the army after being with so many people who know and love me,” explained Kresch. “Being handed this warm, helpful and practical gift, which had been waiting for me, really blew me away.”
The package contained a comfortable pillow, bluetooth speaker and bluetooth earbuds. “I actually had forgotten to bring a pillow back to base with me so this was really needed,” continued Kresch. “It was the perfect gift that came at the perfect time. I use the pillow every day. This gift really made me happy.”
In fact, Kresch was so moved that he took the time to send Yahad a thank you note.
Subject: Thank you!
Thank you for the Passover gift! I want you to know that it makes such a huge difference to get that feeling that somebody out there cares about me, and it pulled me straight out of a down when my commander brought me over this gift. It makes such a huge difference, and has such a big impact on a lone soldier’s life and mood and everything. So really thank you!
When Breaking Israel News asked Kresch what inspired him to send the note, he explained that he really wanted to express gratitude to Yahad and the people who donated to the organization. “People should know that their donations really make a difference to the lives of Israel’s soldiers and to our morale,” he said. “I have a lot of gratitude to Yahad for all it does towards soldier welfare. I felt that I had to write to express my feelings about this. I wanted to say ‘Thank you’. People should know that these things really matter to Israeli soldiers, that it really meant something and is very much appreciated.”
To donate to Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, please visit here.