Chayal el Chayal is a home away from home for lone soldiers’, soldiers who come from outside Israel to serve in the IDF. They care for hundreds of lone soldiers every year providing them with all their needs in a family atmosphere. Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, events, outings, lodging and laundry services are just a few of their many programs. Run by Lubavitch former lone soldiers, the environment and experience is one of Yiddishkeit, caring for the soldiers spiritual safety in addition to the physical. This is expressed by their dedicated care and guidance, the availability of Rabbis to answer questions that arise and learning programs.
Chayal el Chayal recently moved into a new home. Centrally located in Jerusalem, they can now cater to many more soldiers on a daily basis. Complete with a large dining hall, bedrooms, a lounge, office, shul and more, the space provides room for their activities on a grander scale than ever before.
Last week, Chayal el Chayal held a Chanukas Habayis to invite soldiers, parents, neighbors and friends to hear about the new lone soldier home and receive a tour.
The program began with opening remarks from Mordy Botnick, founder and director of Chayal el Chayal. Mordy arrived in Israel at eighteen years old with forty dollars in his pocket. He told the taxi driver to take him to Jerusalem and spent his first night sleeping on his bag in the Shuk.
Towards the end of his army service a group of fellow lone soldiers joined together to create a Shabbos meal. Mordy didn’t stop there. He began coordinating meals throughout his service and onward, settling down and opening his home to those who were now in the same position as he had been in.
Two years ago Chayal el Chayal brought down another couple, Ari and Rochel Shira Abramowitz. Ari was a lone soldier too, joining the IDF after being in Sderot during the rocket attacks and hearing about the murder of eight Yeshiva students in Jerusalem. He too knows the feeling of serving without family nearby. Ari told the crowd present about the challenges a lone soldier faces, from simple tasks to dealing with Israeli bureaucracy. For Chayal el Chayal no job is too big or small, no question too difficult to answer, no hour too late to call.
Natan, a lone soldier from Los Angeles, California, was then called upon to speak about how Chayal el Chayal affected him. He had come to Israel with no friends or supportive family and it was difficult to find his place and settle in. Then a friend showed him Chayal el Chayal. “I know it’s cliché to call Chayal el Chayal a home away from home, but that’s just what it is.” He described how his apartment had no mezuzos and within a few hours he had four brand new mezuzos hanging on the doorposts.
After speaking about what the new home has to offer, the live tour began. Starting with the bottom floor and working their way up and around, participants got to see how the home will be used. A lounge that can be converted to a shul for Davening on Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim, a large dining room and kitchen, a library with Seforim, a game room, computer room and bedrooms – all designed to cater to the soldiers. Yet, they made one thing very clear, that this home will remain a home. Their uniqueness comes from the fact that they are not a center. They don’t have hours. They are a 24/7, all day every day support system and loving family, and they chose a house to fit these needs but allow the homey atmosphere to remain.
The tour concluded the Chanukas Habayis, but the night was far from over. A Farbrengen was held afterwards, inspiring both the soldiers and friends who lingered.
There would be an ending to the night if there could be, but for Chayal el Chayal, the work is never done. Already on their way preparing meals for Shabbos and Yom Tov, building a Sukkah, handing out lulavim and esrogim, coordinating Chol Hamoed trips… it doesn’t stop.
This isn’t a “Charidy” article but your support definitely quadruples their success. You can enable Chayal el Chayal to continue their mission of providing lone soldiers from around the globe with a family to call home. Help them help those who protect us by visiting www.ChayalelChayal.org.