Jerusalem Brigade and LIBI Lead the Jerusalem Parade

Annual Jerusalem March Honors IDF, LIBI Fund

By Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News (See pictures below)
Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and from all over the world marched down the streets of Jerusalem last Tuesday, proudly wearing the colors and waving flags of their home countries.

With thousands of Jerusalemites watching from the sidewalks, balconies and windows of neighboring buildings, the marchers who were participating in the annual Jerusalem March event organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and the Jerusalem Municipality, shared smiles, small gifts, and joy with the resident bystanders.

IDF paratrooper, armor and infantry brigades who had fought in the recent conflict in Gaza, as well as Firefighters, Border Police, and representatives from the Jerusalem Police Department were all at the head of the march. Leading the charge was American Friends of LIBI who marched together with the Jerusalem Brigade.

With the vaunted history of the Jerusalem Brigade, and the dedication that the brigade has shown to the security of the holy city, it was no surprise that they received a place of honor at the head of the march. So to American Friends of LIBI’s dedication to the army was honored by allowing them to march with the Jerusalem Brigade up towards the front of the march.

Representatives of LIBI, the official fund of the IDF, greeted the crowds with smiles and a large sign in English that read: “The IDF marches with you and thanks you for marching with us.” With each step, massive cheers of support erupted from the crowd as the banner came into view.

“It was a truly inspirational feeling holding the sign and marching together with the army through the streets of Jerusalem”, a LIBI representatives told Breaking Israel News.

“Walking through the streets, hearing the cheers of the crowd and watching the smiles on their faces, posing for pictures, all of it gave a surreal feeling of celebration that one hardly feels anymore. It was a bubbly giggly feeling that builds up inside and makes you feel like you have returned to being a giddy schoolboy,” he said.

American Friends of LIBI has been working tirelessly to raise money for the army and was even involved in helping out this years march. One of the officers in the Jerusalem Brigade who was tasked with organizing the Brigade for the March, which includes arranging the logistics for the veterans and their families to march alongside the new inductees, said the following about LIBI’s support:

“Without the LIBI Fund supporting the project, this would not be able to happen. LIBI helps support us and reminds us that we are not alone. This isn’t simply an event for the city of Jerusalem, or for the Jerusalem Brigade by itself. It is a celebration of national proportions, one which reflects the deep rooted connection of a people to its land,” the officer explained.

“When I met with LIBI to garner their support, they made it clear that this was an event of national interest. The LIBI Fund saw this project as incredibly important and were eager to help out. I am very thankful for their help and I cannot agree more with their sentiment. The march, like the Jerusalem Brigade, sends a message, the message of continuity, the message that we are here to stay. This land is ours. It has always been ours. We have returned to our roots in our land, and we will stand strong to make sure that we always stay here,” he explained.

The Jerusalem municipality estimated that over 60,000 people participated in the march, which took place over three different routes throughout the city, and began with a festive opening at Sacher park. Among those who took part in the march were foreign tourists and Christian pilgrims from all over the world.

The Christian pilgrims, arranged in their national groupings, numbered almost 6,000, and were marching as part of the five day celebration organized for the festival of Sukkot by the ICEJ.

One of the notable nations that marched in support of Jerusalem and the IDF was the Pacific island nation of Fiji, whose delegation, along with the 33 pilgrims, included 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers, not in uniform, who were recent hostages of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Al Nusra.

The peacekeepers, who were released from captivity after their country paid a ransom for their safety, were returned to the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, and were able to march with their families who were reunited with them on Tuesday.

Other marchers included stilt walkers in circus regalia, costumed dancers and various companies and veterans from all over the country. But at the head of it all, in a well deserved place of honor, marched representatives of the Israeli Military and Police Forces, and LIBI.

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LIBI Fund and American Friends of LIBI marching in the Jerusalem Parade, 2014. (Photo: Nisan Hanania/ Breaking Israel News)

Marching at the Jerusalem Parade, 2014. (Photo: Nisan Hanania/ Breaking Israel News)
Marching at the Jerusalem Parade, 2014. (Photo: Nisan Hanania/ Breaking Israel News)

Students Raise Money for LIBI

College Students Raise Money for IDF with “Flash Tats 4 Israel”

by Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News

A number of college students in the US came together to raise money for the Israeli Defense Forces. The students created a new fundraising initiative to support the LIBI Fund, the official fundraising division of the IDF.

They created “Flash-tats For Israel”, a drive selling temporary tattoos with an Israeli twist and donated the proceeds to LIBI.

“Over the past couple of weeks we were able to raise a significant amount of money that we are so proud to be sending to the LIBI Fund. The difference we will make in the medical campaign is what drives us to volunteer our time for this cause,” the students wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “We thank each and everyone one of you for your continued support and donations, together we’re doing little bits of good.”

To encourage others, the group even posted an inspirational MEME that states:

The newly formed non-profit is run by Hila Refael and Michelle Wigder, who go by the name The Flashtat4Israel Team. Refael and Wigder garnered their inspiration while on a recent Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel this past summer during Operation Protective Edge.

While visiting the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, the two friends became inspired by the graves of the recently fallen IDF soldiers. They both decided then and there that they wanted to do something to help out the defenders of the Jewish state.

“It is so easy to feel helpless when you are thousands of miles away. In an effort to keep the connection that we felt at Mt. Herzl strong, we started our nonprofit, Flashtat4israel, to fundraise for an IDF charity organization,” Refael and Wigder told Breaking Israel News.

As for the reason as to why this particular fundraising medium of flashy temporary ink, the duo explained, “Temporary flash tattoos are a recent trend we have been obsessing over. They are metallic tattoos that replace the need to wear jewelry, which is especially helpful on hikes up Masada or at the Golan Heights.”

Following through with their inspiration, the two artists began creating flash tattoos inspired by Israel that are also in line with popular jewellery trends, including a Chai pendant, a Hamsa, stars and bands that imitate real jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets and traditional jewellery worn in religious occasions or weddings.

The designs give off an authentic Middle Eastern vibe and from a distance can often be mistaken for the real thing. The great thing about temporary tattoos is that they appeal to everyone.

As to why they picked the LIBI Fund as the recipient of their good deeds, Refael and Wigder expressed their awe at the extensive support the LIBI Fund gives to the soldiers of the IDF.

“After speaking to the Israeli soldiers on our (birthright) trip, who we are pleased to call our new friends, we decided to donate all profits to the LIBI Fund and are so excited to be working with the American Friends of LIBI.”

“The LIBI Fund is the only official fund of the IDF and implements projects not covered by the army’s regular budget. The organization’s medical campaign touched our hearts and so we are sending the profits directly to aid our brothers and sisters,” they said.

Sukkot with LIBI in Jerusalem

IDF’s Jerusalem Brigade Marches with LIBI in Jerusalem

by Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News

In 1967 a group of IDF soldiers, who all hailed from the city of Jerusalem, together with a force of paratroopers, reunified the city of Jerusalem that had been divided for 19 years.

After wresting control of the eastern part of the city from the Jordanian military, the group, which was then termed the Jerusalem Brigade, headed south through the Etzion Bloc, which had been conquered by Jordan in 1948, and liberated the Tomb of Rachel.

Following the repatriation of the Bloc, they headed to Hebron where they received the official surrender of the leader of the city and liberated the Cave of the Patriarchs, without causing bloodshed.

“What is special about the Jerusalem Brigade, aside from its vaunted history, is that the original brigade, which had been tasked with the defense of the city and its surrounding area, was made up of people from Jerusalem, of all different walks of life,” a high ranking officer belonging to the Jerusalem Brigade told Breaking Israel News.

“The soldiers who make up the brigade hail from secular as well as ultra-orthodox backgrounds and everything in between. New immigrants and bred-and-born Israelis stand shoulder to shoulder and include both new recruits and aged veterans. The Jerusalem Brigade is a fitting representation of the unique mosaic that makes up the population of the city with all of its varied cultures.”

As a celebration of its history and tradition, the Jerusalem Brigade marches each year as part of an annual parade through the streets of Jerusalem over the Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) holiday.

“There is a deep connection between the brigade and this city, even this region and its history,” said the officer. “We invite people to participate and join with us in the parade.”

The march, which is organized each year by the Jerusalem municipality, celebrates the festival and the international stature of Jerusalem, as well as its reunification and the unity of this very hotly contested city.

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“It is very fitting for a city that has such a cosmopolitan populace to remember that it was unified by citizens of the very city itself,” exclaimed the officer proudly.

“That is what the Jerusalem Brigade represents – bringing the people back in touch with their homeland, their holy sites, and each other,” he continued.

Today the Jerusalem Brigade serves as a special-forces-infantry brigade that is called upon to operate in all parts of the country and is active in all major conflicts in Israel. Most recently, the Jerusalem brigade took part in Operation Protective Edge and before that in Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Cast Lead.

Standing right beside the Jerusalem Brigade during the march will be the LIBI Fund, the official fundraising division of the IDF.

“LIBI helps us out with the logistics and execution of all the special events that the brigade plans. They help us both in the planning stages as well as helping us fund them,” he said.

“We are part of a very modest army that does not spend money needlessly, or on anything that is ‘nonessential’ and that is very much to the army’s credit. However, it leaves us without the ability to commemorate celebratory events with the proper decorum, solemnity and style. Take the march for example. The Sukkot holiday is a time off for many soldiers, and they would not want to take time from the leave and spend it on the march if they were unable to bring their families. Thanks to the LIBI Fund, we can bring the families of the soldiers to the march and thereby increase the participation and morale of the soldiers,” he said.

The Jerusalem Brigade uses the march to introduce its newly inducted soldiers to their older veteran counterparts, those who are no longer serving in the brigade.

“Without the LIBI Fund supporting the project, this would not be able to happen. LIBI helps support us and reminds us that we are not alone. This isn’t simply an event for the city of Jerusalem, or for the Jerusalem Brigade by itself. It is a celebration of national proportions, one which reflects the deep rooted connection of a people to its land,” the officer explained.

The officer closed off by expressing his thanks to the LIBI Fund for their support and by reiterating the message the embodies the entire Brigade.

“When I met with LIBI to garner their support, they made it clear that this was an event of national interest. The LIBI Fund saw this project as incredibly important and were eager to help out. I am very thankful for their help and I cannot agree more with their sentiment. The march, like the Jerusalem Brigade, sends a message, the message of continuity, the message that we are here to stay. This land is ours. It has always been ours. We have returned to our roots in our land, and we will stand strong to make sure that we always stay here,” he said.