5,300 widows of fallen IDF soldiers received special New Year’s gifts from the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization this week. The organization distributed the parcels across the country to families whose loved ones had paid the ultimate price in defense of the State of Israel. Despite marking the Jewish New Year, widows from all religions and creeds received the special packages, including tens of Muslim, Christian and Druze families. A special ceremony was held in Beer Sheva for local Bedouin-Muslim widows, in which IDFWO Chairperson Tami Shelach personally gave out the individual gifts. Another private meeting was held with Yael Weismann, whose 21-year-old husband Staff Sargent Tuvia Yanai, was killed in February, while trying to apprehend an armed terrorist during an attack on shoppers in a busy supermarket.
The period of the High Holidays is particularly difficult for bereaved families and the IDFWO Rosh Hashanah initiative is just one way in which the organization shows them support. Since Rosh Hashanah is a national holiday in Israel, all Israelis are on vacation and find this time of year challenging, irrespective of religion.
Speaking after the ceremony with Bedouin-Muslim IDF Widows, IDFWO Chairperson Tami Shelach said: “As an IDF widow and the mother of active IDF soldiers, it gives me hope for the future when I visit members of the minority communities that are as committed to peace, coexistence and the defense of the State of Israel. Soldiers from these communities volunteered to serve in the IDF and we cannot take their service for granted. We are extremely proud that the IDF is a people’s army made up of Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze. The IDFWO will continue to do everything in its power to assist all of these families with the support of our donors in Israel and abroad.”
Speaking after her meeting with Yael Weismann, Shelach said: “Nothing is more moving than meeting a young courageous widow like Yael and letting her know that she is not alone. I too, was left behind, to raise my children as a young widow, but forty years ago, there wasn’t an IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, now there is. I welcomed Yael into the IDFWO sisterhood and promised that we would be at her service to help support and strengthen her and her baby, whenever needed.”
The IDF Widows and Orphans Organization (IDFWO) is the sole non-profit organization recognized by the State of Israel that represents and supports the widows and orphans of Israel’s fallen soldiers. The organization provides social, emotional and financial support to widows and orphans who have suffered a great loss: that of a husband and/or father. From the moment that the family is informed of the tragic news, until the child graduates university, the IDFWO is on hand to support and help those left behind. http://www.idfwo.org/eng