By Fern Sidman
The Brooklyn Region of the Zionist Organization of America has announced that this Purim they will hold their 16th annual Mishloach Manos campaign. Dedicated to the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces who serve their country on a daily basis with remarkable valor, devotion and commitment to the security of its people, this campaign is a tangible display of tremendous appreciation for all that they do. Through this ZOA campaign, American Jews of all ages and affiliations coalesce to bring the incredible joy of Purim to members of the IDF through the distribution of over 9000 shalach manos packages along thousands of personalized letters of support and love sent to them wherever they are stationed.
This year, the campaign has significantly expanded to include 29 Jewish schools from around the country. From Portland, Oregon to Columbus, Ohio to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Long Island, New York and beyond, children from 1st to 12th grade have written heartfelt letters to IDF members in which they express their Hakaras Hatov to them for protecting their loved ones, for keeping Israel safe and secure and for putting their lives on the line for their people.
Spearheading the Purim campaign for the last 16 years is ZOA Brooklyn regional president Rubin Margules. In an exclusive interview, Mr. Margules said, “I have been personally involved in this important ZOA campaign for many years and I must say that the letters written to the IDF by children this year leave you misty-eyed. They are so poignant, moving and beautifully written. The children are truly cognizant of the awesome responsibility that each person serving in the IDF has and they really want to give back in some way. That speaks volumes about the Ahavas Yisrael and Achdus that our children are being taught through their participation in this campaign.”
Mr. Margules adds that this year the Purim campaign is crackling with genuine excitement as yet another extraordinarily special Purim concert is being planned in Ariel for IDF members and their families. “Last year, the ZOA sponsored a most successful and highly spirited concert in Kiryat Arba and over 500 soldiers attended. This year’s festivities will also include top-notch entertainment.”
For the last 16 years, IDF members throughout Israel rejoice on Purim with the shalach manos packages donated by the ZOA.
These Purim activities are made possible by different ZOA regions including Michigan, Philadelphia and South Florida who are actively participating and bringing aboard additional donors as well.
With palpable emotion reverberating in his voice, Mr. Margules exclaimed, “This ZOA shalach manos campaign is a wonderful expression of the unwavering bond that American Jews share with Israel and its intrepid soldiers. It also represents a marvelous opportunity to show our appreciation at a minimal cost. Yet, the most important thing we can do for our children is to instruct them in what the Torah mandates of us all and that is appreciation. Appreciation to Hashem and to everyone who sacrifices for Am Yisrael. By taking an active role and writing letters to the IDF, these children infuse such delight and joy in the hearts of these soldiers and it really bolsters their spirits.”
Because of the increasing danger that the IDF has been forced to confront during the last few months of unbridled Arab terror that has rocked the Jewish State, this Purim has taken on special significance. “Since the wave of lone wolf Arab stabbing and shooting attacks began, a high percentage of the casualties have been IDF members who have put their own lives in harm’s way to protect civilians at all costs. They do so unflinchingly and with great courage and for that, we are eternally indebted to them,” said Mr. Margules.
Observing the human reaction to the phenomenon of expressing thanks, Mr. Margules said, “Appreciation is a two-way street and I witness this with my own eyes every year when I travel to Israel to distribute the shalach manos and the letters to the IDF. Here we are, coming from America to show our thanks to them, and what I see and hear from these soldiers is their full throated appreciation and thanks to us for remembering and acknowledging their service and commitment.”