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The Lone Soldier Center

You didn't have to be a Lone Soldier from the U.S. to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Tel Aviv volunteers of the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. At this year's annual feast were Lone Soldiers from all over the world - including Russia, France, North America, South America and, of course, the U.S.

The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin provides soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with Shabbat meals, housing, furniture, and social events. Lone soldiers – or “chayalim bodidim,” as they are known in Hebrew – are soldiers who have left their families living in other countries to join the Israeli army.

Thus, they do not have families in Israel to advise, feed, and comfort them during what can be extremely difficult times. The center provides lone soldiers with guidance and support before, during, and after their IDF service, and gives lone soldiers a place to call home. The center’s staff is available 24 hours a day.

The center is named for Michael Levin, a lone soldier who moved from Philadelphia to Israel after graduating high school to serve in the IDF. He fell in battle while defending Israel in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

The center provides lone soldiers with apartments and basic furniture and housewares. On Jewish and national holidays, the center hosts meals and social events, and holds Shabbat meals for more than 300 lone soldiers each month.

Josh Flaster made aliyah in 2006 after graduating from Yale and served in the IDF for three years. After being discharged, he volunteered at the center and took over as director this year.

There are three types of lone soldiers served by the center: young adults from around the world who make aliyah and join the IDF; young adults from the Diaspora who volunteer in the IDF through the Machal program; and ultra-Orthodox Israeli young men whose families do not support their decision to serve in the IDF.

The center has 2,200 lone soldiers in its database. Currently, Flaster knows of five lone soldiers from Connecticut who are serving in the IDF.

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