IDF Golani Marathon Kicks Off in Israel’s North as Runners Race Across Entire Country

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Over the last several year, Israel has become very active in the marathon circuit. Having one of the most difficult marathons in the world, the Jerusalem marathon, as well as many others throughout the year, Israelis are no foreigner when it comes to running for sport, health and fun.

For the past 28 years, the IDF Golani Brigade has been getting in on the action as well.

April 26th marked the beginning of the 28th Golani Marathon, which continues until the end of the month. Termed “the people’s brigade” by marathon organizers, this year’s marathon opened up participation to people from all over the country.

The run is being sponsored by the LIBI Fund, which is donating more than a quarter of a million shekel to the marathon.

According to one LIBI spokesperson, “anyone who is able can donate to Golani through the LIBI Fund, and if you happen to be in one of the cities that the run will take place in you can join the festivities, and receive a free Golani t-shirt. It will be an exciting event in each place, one which we are giving our full support to.”

 

Support the soldiers of the IDF Golani Brigade

The race will travel through six of Israel’s biggest cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya, Tiberias, Beer Sheva and Eilat – and will encompass the entire country, north to south, in five days. Marathon participants will complete the race in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat on the 30th.

Current and former Golani soldiers, as well as friends, family and supporters are all taking part in the marathon. Many soldiers use the marathon as an opportunity for an unofficial reunion.

The race began on the slopes of Mount Hermon in the northern-most reaches of Israel. Golani soldiers kicked off the race with the lighting of a special torch that will pass through Israel, relay style for 830 kilometers.

Over the course of the run the entire country is invited to come and cheer on the soldiers. In Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will be participating in the event as well as Mayor Nir Barkat.

The camaraderie that Israel’s prestigious Golani Brigade gives off to the nation has been felt ever more acutely this year as the brigade was hard hit and took many casualties during Operation Protective Edge, including the deaths of two lone soldiers.

 

IDF Rescue, Medical Delegation Headed to Nepal Following Devastating Quake

IDF medical experts on their way to help out with disaster relief. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
IDF medical experts on their way to help out with disaster relief. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Israel has sent a delegation of emergency responders to Nepal following a devastating earthquake that has killed more than 2,150 people and injured some 4,800 others.

On Saturday, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake began outside the capital of Kathmandu. The quake is the worst tremor to his the South Asian country in over 80 years.

Tremors were felt across neighboring countries such as India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan. The quake triggered an avalanche on a Mount Everest base camp in Nepal, where 17 people are believed to have been killed and 61 injured.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the IDF and aid organizations have partnered up to send paramedics, rescuers and emergency supplies to the hardest hit region. Dozens of Israelis in Nepal are still unaccounted for.

Just after midnight, a special advance team took off from Israel to assess the needs of the Nepalese and Israeli emergency responders. A second rescue team of 240 soldiers departed to Nepal early Sunday morning to aid in rescue and recovery efforts over the next two weeks.

Lt. Col. Eva Cohen of the IDF LIBI Fund received a phone call from the IDF Medical Corps requesting financial assistance for their humanitarian mission to Nepal.

“Upon receiving the phone call, I immediately asked what we could do to help out our fellow soldiers on their mission,” she said. “Everyone should know that when a massive disaster happens somewhere in the world – the Philippines, Haiti or Nepal – it’s the Israeli army that responds first.”

More than 400 IDF personnel are expected to head to Nepal with the full aid of LIBI.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the special IDF rescue team is made up of six medical experts, IDF Home Front Command soldiers, and a team from the IDF Medical Corps.

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For those Israelis stranded in Nepal, the statement added that they will be given “the means necessary to return to Israel.”

Aside from official government organization, private Israeli groups such as IsraAID, Magen David Adom, Zaka and United Hatzalah are planning on sending delegations of medics and emergency supplies on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter of condolences to Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Saturday night, promising medical assistance and emergency aid. Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin issued a statement of support.

“Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people of Nepal dealing with this awful disaster, and with our loved ones who are in distress. The State of Israel is reaching out to help the search and rescue of the many victims,” Rivlin said in a statement.

Israel is usually the first international responders to the scenes of emergency disasters. In 2014 the IDF Field Hospital Unit was unique in its abilities to arrive quickly to disaster areas, usually within a matter of 24 hours.

 

LIBI Lone Soldier Series: A Young Woman’s Fight to Impact the Future of the Nation

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Today, there are more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. Lone soldiers join all units of Israeli military. Most lone soldiers who enlist in the IDF are highly motivated to serve and protect Israel.

LIBI USA, which works to support Israel’s defenders in all aspects of life, has launched a new initiative to ensure that those who volunteer to defend the Jewish state and leave home are supported.

Tal Dover, 20, grew up in Miami, Florida, where she graduated from West Broward High School. Dover is currently serving in the IDF as a lone soldier, where she holds the rank of Private in the Arayot Hayarden (The Lions of Jordan) Unit.

Dover spoke with LIBI and Breaking Israel News about her decision to leave her family and friends behind to become a defender of the State of Israel.

When did you begin to develop a connection to Israel?

I have always had a connection to Israel because my parents are Israeli. We would spend our summers here. I knew I wanted to eventually live here, but I never really thought about joining the IDF until I was 17. My father pressured me to finish my degree and then make aliyah, but I knew my place wasn’t in America. I belong here, in Israel.

When did you enlist in the army?

November 13, 2014

How do your parents feel about you being a lone soldier?

It is really hard for them. They are proud of me, which gives me a lot of strength. My dad loves to talk about the fact that I am in a combat unit. He brags about me.

How often do you get to go back home and see your family?

The last time I saw them was 8 months ago before I made aliyah. My dad got tickets to be here for my beret ceremony in June, along with my mom and brother. I am so excited!

I was also recently told that I was chosen to attend a commander’s course in July that I am really excited for. It will be nice to have an influence on the next group to draft.

This Florida girl loves snow! (Photo: Courtesy Tal Dover)

Why did you chose the unit you are in?

I came through Garin Sabar and I knew I wanted to be a combat soldier. If I was to serve in the army I always wanted to do it to the fullest. I was told about this unit a week before my draft. It is a brand new unit and I was in their first draft! I chose this unit because we are based on the Jordan border and it is an opportunity to create change.

Have you had a moment so far in your service that has been especially meaningful?

The first time I visited the Kotel (Western Wall) in uniform was specifically meaningful. I cried like never before and my connection to the people and the land was strengthened. I knew I was doing what I was meant to do.

On my draft day, I had more people at my draft than all the other regular soldiers. My draft was in Tel HaShomer, and people drove from Haifa and the north just to support me. Even though my parents weren’t there I felt so much support.

Many people don’t know that soldiers are oftentimes required to buy some of their own military equipment. Is there anything your unit specifically needs?

The vests the army gave us are not meant for women’s bodies. They do not properly fit us or support us, so we could benefit a lot from more fitted vests.

What is one message you want to tell the world about the importance of being an IDF soldier? 

What I am doing is hard. But it is so worth it. It is so important to be here and make an impact on my future, the army, and the Jewish people.

 Partner with LIBI and Tal in order to support her mission as a female IDF soldier in the defense of Israel. Click here to show your support. 

LIBI Lone Soldier Series: Two Brothers Stand Up in Defense of Israel

LIBI and Breaking Israel News have partnered together to present a special series highlighting current Lone Soldiers who serve in the IDF. 

Today, there are more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. A “lone soldier” is a soldier who has no family in Israel to support him or her. They range from new immigrants, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or an individual from a broken home.

Lone soldiers join all units of Israeli military. Most lone soldiers who enlist in the IDF are highly motivated to serve and protect Israel. Around 30 percent serve in combat units and about 20 percent serve in combat-support units.

LIBI USA, which works to support Israel’s defenders in all aspects of life, has launched a new initiative to ensure that those who volunteer to defend the Jewish state and leave home are supported.

Joseph Katz, 23, and his brother Alex, 20, grew up in New Rochelle, New York, attending SAR for high-school. The Katz brothers are both currently serving as lone soldiers in the IDF. With their family in New York, the brothers chose to make aliyah alone, leaving behind their family, friends, and familiarity. They enlisted in the IDF which is changing the course of the rest of their lives.

The Katz brothers and their parents, Richie and Gila, spoke with Breaking Israel News and LIBI about their experiences thus far.

At what age did you begin to develop a connection to Israel?

Joey and Alex Katz with their mother. (Photo: Courtesy Alex Katz)
Joey and Alex Katz with their mother. (Photo: Courtesy Alex Katz)

Joseph: I was connected from birth. It has been the strongest in the past couple of years. My parents have instilled Jewish pride in me since I was child. When I was in third grade, around 10 years old, the Second Intifada began and my father would bring me to rallies in front of the UN and it was then that I realized I had a much deeper connection to Israel, and my importance in advocating for Jews all over the world and especially Jews in Israel. It was from then on that my connection grew deeper. There is a price to freedom. With liberty comes responsibility and therefore I made Aliyah out of my love for the land and my love for what the country has to offer. As a Jew I am completely devoted to the land of Israel and I feel it is my duty to defend that freedom for the entire Jewish nation.

Alex: My Summer after 6th grade I went for three weeks to Israel. The first week I spent with my dad. And the second week I was in Israeli Summer camp, one of the only American’s there, and it was during the time of the Second Lebanon War. That Summer my eyes were opened to what an Israeli lifestyle is. I continued to return the following Summers. After high-school, in Yeshiva, I had Israeli roommates and I became a lot more connected to the people, not just on an ideological level but a personal level as well.

When did you decide to join the army?

Joseph: I decided when I was a sophomore in college at NYU College of Arts and Sciences, that after graduation I would like to move to Israel and serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Alex: I enlisted in the army in March of 2014

How do your parents feel about you being a lone soldier?

Joseph: When I told my parents I would be moving to Israel after graduation they were a bit skeptical, but as I continued to pursue my dream they understood that this was going to be a reality for me and were supportive of me making my dreams come true.

Alex: My parents still struggle with the idea that they aren’t so involved in my day to day life, being that they are so far away, but I know that they are proud of me and support what I am doing.

How often do you get to go back home and see your family?

Joseph: Over the course of my first year living in Israel I have returned to New York twice to see my family.

Alex: In the past year being a lone soldier I have returned to New York once.

Joseph (far Left) and Alex (second from left) with their parents and sister. (Photo: Courtesy Alex Katz)
Joseph (far Left) and Alex (second from left) with their parents, Richie and Gila, and sister, Liana. (Photo: Courtesy Alex Katz)

Why did you chose the unit you are in?

Joseph: Currently I am in basic training, which is a six week course. Once I finish basic training I have nine weeks of training to prepare me for my entrance to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Alex: I knew I wanted to go into a combat unit. I chose to go into artillery because I had a nice group of friends that I knew who would be there and be a good support system for me.

Why do you feel your service in the army is important?

Joseph: I feel that as a citizen I am required to serve in the army. Being that I already have a college degree and a lot of experience in communications for the Israeli Government, I have chosen to contribute based on my experiences and skills and offer as much as I can to the army.

I worked at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC as part of the economic mission to the US. In that role, I worked on financial reports to be given to the finance and foreign ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as working on the communications team for the Israeli mission to the UN, where I worked on writing speeches on behalf of the ambassadors.

Alex: I feel that my way to fight for the Jewish people is to be in the IDF and defend the Jewish nation. I am not only fighting for Israel I am fighting for Jews all around the world. I have not slept a full night in the past two weeks because I have been on missions and this is something that I like to remember which gives me energy to continue what I am doing.

How do you look to your brother for support?

Joseph: My brother is a commander in a combat unit and he is only 20 years old. He moved to Israel right after high school, and two years later joined the IDF. He constantly is supporting me in my dream to make my life here and I am proud to call him my brother.

Alex: I see my brother Joey as a role model. He is an inspiration to what it means to live a life as a Zionist. His passion in life is Israel. Joey was very supportive in helping me discuss the idea with my parents. With Joey’s help I was able to explain to them why I was so passionate about this and why it was important for me to move to Israel and join the IDF.

Becoming a soldier of the Jewish state is a tremendous blessing and responsibility that comes with hardships not just for the soldiers, but for the families as well. Richie and Gila Katz, shared with us a personal and powerful story on why their sons’ decisions to become soldiers means so much.

Richie: For years, this photo frame has been sitting on the shelf. Our son Joey, maybe 5 or 6 years old, is praying away at the Kotel (Western Wall). And tucked away in the bottom corner of the frame, for safe keeping, has been the only photo that the family ever had of my namesake, Yisroel Mandelbam, z”l, flanked by his two sons.

(Photo: Courtesy Richie Katz)
Joey Katz at the Kotel as a young boy. (Photo: Courtesy Richie Katz)

Because Yisroel had polio as a child and was physically challenged, he and his family remained in Tarlow (Poland) – either the trip was deemed too difficult for him, or given his handicap, he couldn’t qualify for a visa, or both. Yisroel’s fate was ultimately sealed by the Nazis who shot him dead in front of the family’s home. As we recently learned, the two boys pictured here were taken to Majdanek and slaughtered.

I believe with every fabric of my being that the story of Yisroel Mandelbaum’s family could have had a very different ending if there had been a Jewish homeland and, within that homeland, a powerful and compelling voice to speak on their behalf when the rest of the world stood idly by and chose to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Shoah.

Call me crazy, but as I stared at these photos, my eyes welled up with tears at the realization that housed within that picture frame was the most incredible story of our people’s destiny and a message of hope for the future. That little boy at the Kotel reported for his IDF service, having grown up into a true force to be reckoned with, about to join the ranks of an elite group of men and women who, as IDF spokesperson’s, are brilliantly poised to speak up and send the crystal clear message to this absolutely insane world of ours that never again, under any possible circumstances, will the fate of the six million precious, innocent souls await any Jew, anywhere on the globe.

 

How did you feel when your sons told you that they would be joining the IDF?

We are incredibly proud of both of our sons. At first we were worried, but after a lot of discussion with both of them we realized it was absolutely the right thing and with total passion. There autobiographies would not be complete without this decision.

As a parent – what do you think your child’s biggest struggle has been as a lone soldier?

As a parent I try not to imagine that they struggle. I think they are learning a whole new lifestyle where they are learning that things do not come easy. I don’t believe that they ever truly feel alone, but they did have to become independent very quickly.

We know that they are fine but as parents we just want to be there for them. I think I struggle with it more than they do. We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit them a few times this past year.

We are very grateful that they can share experiences and have each others support.

What idea would you like to convey to people around the world about lone soldiers, and specifically about your son?

We are living in incredibly precarious times and the state of Israel represents the only change for not only the middle east but for the world for true freedom. Our children are prepared to defend the values that Israel stands for which no other country in the region stands for. I hope that the world recognizes the strength of these kids. They are fighting for democracy and for everyone and of course fighting for our homeland. The sacrifice they are making is not even quantifiable.

How does it make you feel to know that people all around the world of all different religions, jews and non-jews are supporting your child and praying for them daily?

It is daunting. When you know that there are people all over rooting and supporting for your kids there are no words of gratitude that can even express what we feel.

Did you instilled zionism and a love for Israel in your home and in your children?

We have a homeland where every Jew is welcome and my two sons are doing their parts trying to ensure that that reality never goes away. With big dreams come big responsibilities. We constantly pray that they can both continue to follow their passions and dreams. We made sure that our feelings for Israel and our passion for our homeland be passed on to them.

“The only thing I do know is that I will be on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh flight after graduation” – Joey said the first Saturday night of his winter break in Freshman year of NYU.

Partner with LIBI and the Katz brothers in order to support their mission as IDF soldiers in the defense of Israel. Click here to show your support. 

In Memoriam – Remembering the Fallen Heroes of the IDF

IDF soldiers stand at attention in front of the graves of IDF soldiers buried at Mt. Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery. (Photo: IDF)
IDF soldiers stand at attention in front of the graves of IDF soldiers buried at Mt. Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery. (Photo: IDF)

Every year on Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, the country commemorates its fallen victims of terrorism and war. Counting from the year 1860, when Jews were first allowed to live outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, Israel commemorates 23,320 casualties of war and terror.

Every year, Israelis set aside a special day, the day before Independence Day, to commemorate those who gave their lives to live in and protect the country from its enemies. The national day of remembrance begins Tuesday night at 8 pm with a one-minute long siren across the country. A second siren rings country-wide on Wednesday morning at 11 am.

Like all other years, this year Israel has what to remember. Since the last Yom Hazikaron, 116 people have died, 67 of them in Operation Protective Edge. According to statistics released by the IDF ahead of Yom Hazikaron, 131 parents, 11 widows, and 187 siblings lost a loved one this past year. 21 children became orphans and two children were born after their fathers were killed, being forced to grow up having never met their dad.

In addition to the 67 soldiers killed during the 50-day war in Gaza, another 35 disabled soldiers died due to injuries they received in the line of duty.

Yom Hazikaron is certainly one of the more emotional days on the Jewish calendar, as it is hard pressed to find a home in Israel that did not know, on a first hand basis, a soldier who has given his life for his country or someone affected by terror.

Joseph Trumpeldor’s dying statement, “Tis good to die for one’s country,” rings out loud and clear in the minds of all Israelis on Yom Hazikaron… Read the full article here.