Bar Mitzvah Boy Donates ALL of His Gifts to IDF Soldiers Through LIBI USA

A self proclaimed “Jew and Zionist”, 13-year-old New York City resident Gavin Mitchell asked his friends and family to donate to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) through LIBI USA in lieu of his Bar Mitzvah gifts.

Bar Mitzvah literally translates as “son of commandment”. It refers to the coming-of-age ceremony celebrated by Jewish boys at the age of 13, and symbolizes a young Jewish man taking on observance of Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics. Most Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrated with a large party and lots of gifts.

Some young men and women, instead of accepting the gifts, choose to turn their rite of passage into an opportunity to help others.

“We greatly appreciate Gavin’s generosity towards our Israeli soldiers,” expressed Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “We were touched by this selfless act which reflects the selflessness of our dedicated soldiers towards the defense of the Holy Land.”

Before Gavin’s Bar Mitzvah, the Mitchell family set up a webpage explaining that LIBI USA was chosen as his “mitzvah project” because it “works on behalf of the Israeli DefMitchell Family 2ense Force with services that contribute to the security of the State of Israel and those that fight to protect it.”

Gavin further explained that donations would help fund new facilities and equipment for both the medical and personal needs for soldiers, financial assistance for army families, IDF academic programs such as the Academic Commandos program and Combat Soldiers matriculation program. Donations would also fund educational programs which help
disadvantaged youth attain skills to be “army worthy” as well as new immigrants language studies and military service training activities.

Much of Gavin’s funding went towards adopting the “Black Snake” Israel Air-Force squadron through the “Adopt a Battalion” program. The “Adopt a Battalion” program began eleven years ago as a way to build an extraordinary bond between IDF combat soldiers and citizens who care. Combat units are adopted by companies or sponsors who have earmarked 100,000 NIS ($26,000) annually for three years towards the welfare of soldiers.

“In today’s world, the importance of the Black Snake squadron is golden as it is vital and strategically significant to the IDF,” shared Grossman. Mitchell Family 8“Though most of its operations are censored and not known to the public, Gavin wanted to provided both financial and emotional support to this special team of combat soldiers.”

Those who adopt a battalion are invited each year to celebrate brigade milestones, share in recreational activities with soldiers, join in holiday festivities and more. “Adopt a Battalion is a great way to build a lasting and meaningful bond between supporters and soldiers,” explained Grossman. “Over 16 million NIS a year is donated to this important project making it one of the largest community service projects in Israel.”

LIBI USA has the responsibility of filling in IDF budgetary gaps. This is crucial for both the security of the State of Israel and the morale of Israeli soldiers. For example, last year, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Adopt a Battalion, twenty mothers of lone soldiers were flown in as a surprise for their sons and daughters who had volunteered for the IDF.

Mitchell Family 12As part of Gavin’s Bar Mitzvah celebrations, the family personally visited an Israeli army base. “Touring the army base was such an unforgettable moment,” Gavin shared. “The IDF represents the heart and soul of Israel and LIBI provides for the soldiers’ welfare. I am happy to back this organization and pray that the IDF will be successful in all of its missions and to support Israel.”

Mitchell FamilyGrossman pointed out that there are still battalions waiting for adoption. “The Adopt a Battalion program represents the shared commitment of people to Israel and the Israeli army. We welcome individuals, groups and companies to join forces to support IDF soldiers and build personal relationships with Israel’s bravest.”

Decrease in Holy Land Terror Due to Increase in IDF Coordinated Efforts

Prior to last week’s tragic terror attack in the Tel Aviv Sarona Market, Israeli citizens had finally been able to lower their guard and breathe a sigh of relief as things seemed to have quieted down from the near constant terror attacks plaguing the Holy Land since October. However, Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, CEO of The LIBI Fund, the only official fund of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), told Breaking Israel News that the respite is not due to a lessening of Palestinian terrorist desires to murder Jews but rather to the outstanding efforts of the Israeli army.
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“We are now witnessing the results of the very hard work of the Israeli Army to stop terrorism,” Gozal told Breaking Israel News. “The improvements in the general security situation in Israel which we are witnessing, especially around Jerusalem and Hebron, is credited to tremendous coordination between the army and various security teams.”

Since the “Stabbing Intifada” began in October 2015, Israel has increased efforts to gain intelligence about terrorist intentions. IDF combat units, infantry, undercover “Duvdevan” units, and special forces are all working together with security agents and the police to stop what many felt was nearly an unstoppable uprising.

Though the attacks have not stopped completely, the dramatic drop in their number can be attributed to the IDF’s behind-the-scenes work.

“The army has a noticeably greater presence of combat units in Arab villages as well as in Jerusalem, Hebron, and in areas where Jews are living in Judea and Samaria,” Gozal noted. “This has sent a clear message to terrorists that we know what is going on and what they are planning. They are recognizing that we are on top of things, which is having a positive effect on Israel’s security.”

These heightened army activities have brought increased efforts on the part of LIBI USA to ensure that IDF soldiers have all of their physical and emotional needs met. LIBI USA provides for soldiers needs which fall outside of the army’s budget.

“Though it is easy to feel that ‘no news is good news’, LIBI acknowledges that Israel’s calmed down environment is due to the extreme efforts of the IDF,” said Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, to Breaking Israel News. “Those added efforts come with additional stress on our soldiers and more needs calling for fulfillment.”

As more soldiers are serving out in the field, the need for care packages has increased exponentially. Volunteers are regularly delivering LIBI sponsored toiletry kits which thoughtfully include some extra tasty food treats. “Soldiers often do not have the opportunity to return to base to get cleaned up,” explained Grossman. “These packages are crucial for their well-being.”

In the past three months, LIBI has also upgraded and added recreational clubs for IDF soldiers. “Under such stressful circumstances, it is important for soldiers to have a nice place to relax and unwind,” continued Grossman. “We also sponsor weekly BBQs for soldiers. This is another way that they can destress from their service.”

Finding that more and more soldiers are struggling financially, LIBI has increased their  distribution of shopping card vouchers. “These are not only going to lone soldiers but are now also being given to soldiers who fall into a ‘grey’ area – soldiers who do not clearly fall into a ‘needy’ category yet require assistance.”

In addition, Grossman pointed out that more soldiers are guarding Israel’s security through “pillboxes”. Pillboxes are concrete towers equipped with loopholes through which soldiers can fire weapons. Every military position in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem has a pillbox. LIBI is now outfitting these towers with a small kitchen, coffee facility and a place for soldiers to relax.

“Based on coordinated intelligence and the IDF’s expanded presence, the army has experienced more success preventing terror attacks,” Gozal proudly noted. “Though nothing is 100 percent and everyday things can change, like we saw with the Tel Aviv attack, we thank God that we are not hearing about terror attacks on a daily basis. This is proof that the IDF is doing a great job.”

“And, that great job requires us to do what we can to ensure that our soldiers feel cared about and that they are not alone in their hard work,” added Grossman. “LIBI is doing all we can to keep up moral and help IDF soldiers succeed in their missions.”