Israeli President, IDF Chief Hold Passover Meal with 400 Lone Soldiers

President Rivlin celebrating Pesach Seder with lone soldiers. Photo courtesy of Tzalamim Be’Klik

It’s always challenging to celebrate holidays without any family, and when one is serving in the military as well, that can make it even more so. In response to that, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and leader of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Friday celebrated the traditional Passover meal—known in Hebrew as a Seder—with 400 “lone” soldiers, or IDF troops who do not have family in Israel to support them.

“Despite the difficulties of being a soldier, and even more so of being a lone soldier, you chose to serve the state in order to protect us all,” Rivlin told the event per an Israeli press release. “You are brave and wonderful people. It is a great honor to sit with you here tonight… It is an opportunity for us to give something back to you.”

The Passover meal marks the Israelite’s freedom from slavery in Egypt as described in the Biblical book of Exodus and involves multiple special foods to recall that experience. Rivlin highlighted those themes as important to today’s times as well—especially for the military.

“One does not attain freedom overnight. Freedom is a sustained effort—spiritual and physical. Today, too, we must protect our freedom and our right to live in the State of Israel. Because of that, we still need a strong army,” said Rivlin. “Each one of you comes from a different background. But you all have in common the fact that you chose to give of yourselves for the benefit of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

The 400 “lone soldiers” originally hail from dozens of different nations, according to the press release. The event was held at the Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers (UFIS) facility at Givat Olga. In addition to Rivlin and Kochavi, the Chairman of UFIS Maj.-Gen. (res) Yoram Yair, Chief Education Officer Brig.-Gen. Zvika Faireisen and CEO of UFIS Brig.-Gen. (res) Ilan Tal also joined the Seder meal.

While the lone soldiers do not have easily accessible family with whom to celebrate, they do have people who care about them—including Rivlin.

Said the Israeli President, “I am delighted to be celebrating this festive holiday evening with you, dear soldiers… Today, Passover is a holiday where families gather for the Seder meal. We are your family and you are our family. You are part of us, and we are part of you.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, April 21, 2019)

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