Monday, May 21, 2018

Rabbi Akiva Weiss - former Chayal Boded & current Mesorah Chinuch staff member

Last week Camp Mesorah completed ‘Maccabia Games 2016.’ All the campers were divided into four teams, with each team representing another p’lugah (division) of the IDF. These teams included Golani, Nachal, Tzanchanim and Givati. Campers
received authentic unit hats from Israel and spent two days participating in a myriad of athletic competitions.

As campers explored different activities and exercises common in the IDF as part of Maccabia 2016, they also learned about another special group of IDF soldiers; Chayalim Bodidim, or Lone Soldiers. These are soldiers who come from all over the world and do not have any family in Israel to help and support them as they serve. Many Mesorah campers have brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, family and close friends who have all left the comfort of their homes in America to go to Eretz Yisrael to join the IDF.

Rabbi Akiva Weiss, a member of Camp Mesorah’s chinuch staff, shared his own experiences as a Chayal Boded, and explained how wonderful Israelis were to him and his fellow soldiers. He expressed how important it was for them to have a  welcoming place and a home of their own while serving in the Israeli army. He described the amazing ‘Lone Soldier Homes’ that have been established throughout Israel to provide a home and safe haven for soldiers like him who don’t have families of their own in Israel. These homes become a place where the chayalim bodidim can return to on leave after a hard tour of duty.

Continuing in the spirit of Israel, another program for Mesorah 2016 was introduced. This is a project which the campers will bring home with them and continue to work on into the winter months.Camp Mesorah is initiating a camp-wide chesed
project to help the Lone Soldier Bayit (House) in Beit Shemesh. Mesorah campers will be creating their own tzedakah boxes which they will bring home with them from camp after the summer. The hope is that today and throughout the year, campers will make it their mission to give tzedakah utilizing the tzedakah boxes they made in camp. At Mesorah’s Winter Reunion in 2017, campers will be instructed to bring their tzedakah boxes so a joint contribution can be made to the Beit Shemesh Lone Soldier Bayit. This group effort will bring cognizance to the campers about the importance of tzedakah and of course will make a tremendous difference in the lives of our brave soldiers in Israel.