American IDF lone soldiers celebrate Thanksgiving in Jerusalem

American Jewish Committee hosts its 10th annual Thanksgiving dinner for IDF lone soldiers

Date: 25/11/2011, 1:56 AM     Author: Barney Breen-Portnoy

For lone IDF soldiers, holidays can be tough. Far away from their families, it's common for lone soldiers to long for home during these times.

On Thursday, however, 30 American IDF lone soldiers did their best to create a proper Thanksgiving atmosphere in Israel. The lone soldiers gathered at the American Jewish Committee building in Jerusalem for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, highlighted by two plump and delicious turkeys.

All parts of the IDF were represented at the dinner, from elite combat fighters to everyday jobniks.
"These are young people who left behind college educations, careers that they were starting, they made a choice to come to Israel, make aliyah, and to put themselves on the line defending their new country," said Edward Rettig, the director of the American Jewish Committee in Israel. "We very much honor that decision they made."

"These are people whose parents and friends are 8,000 kilometers away, so especially on a holiday like Thanksgiving we want to be there for them, give them a really good meal and provide them with a little taste of America," Rettig continued.

This marked the 10th straight year that the AJC has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for American lone soldiers.

In recent years, an empty chair had been placed at the Thanksgiving dinner table for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. With Shalit's homecoming last month, no such chair was needed this year, Rettig noted happily.

After the meal, with their stomachs packed with turkey and their minds full of holiday cheer, the soldiers dispersed into the cool Jerusalem night to return to their bases and continue defending their people's homeland.