Jerusalem, Israel - Nov. 24, 2023  - Thanksgiving is one US holiday time when families living apart travel to celebrate together. With days off of school and work, a large turkey dinner is a tradition in many homes. 

For the past several years, The Michael Levin Base, a non-profit located in Yerushalayim has hosted dinners for lone soldiers and lone bnei sherut (volunteers) on the Thursday of Thanksgiving. With Operation Swords of Iron action in Gaza and so many soldiers on active duty, it was a difficult decision what to do this year co-director Bonnie Holzberg Rosenbaum explained to BJL recently.  

Instead of the large dinner for 400 soldiers and volunteers as in the past, a smaller version was hosted in the StandWithUs Center in Jerusalem, off of King David Street. The volunteers and lone soldiers who were able to attend were served a full turkey meal with traditional green beans, sweet potatoes, and more. The only thing missing was pumpkin pie. However, Herby's Bakery donated donuts which added a sweet touch to end the meal in anticipation of the miracles of Hanukkah soon. 

Lizzie Noach who has also been the co-director of The Base since its conception is pleased that the Thanksgiving-in-a-box option worked so well. Lone soldiers were sent a full dinner, including decorations and apple pie, to locations where they were serving to be able to celebrate with a holiday meal. 

The StandWithUs director Michael Dickson was pleased to see the educational center used for the event as many of their regular scheduled programs were canceled due to the war. Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum welcomed the young people and complimented their dedication to come from around the world to serve Israel, especially now with a war raging. The dinner was not limited to Americans, but all the lone soldiers and volunteers were welcomed.

A special guest from the US was actor James David Maslow who was surrounded by young fans after he spoke briefly.  Maslow's social media accounts with millions of followers were attacked with antisemitic posts after he wrote in support of Israel at the beginning of the war.

The live music by the Solomon Brothers and clever decorations added to the festive atmosphere.

Aron Rothstein represented the lone soldiers to give thanks to The Base, for taking the place of his mother, "even to remind him to use sunscreen."

On behalf of the Bnot Sherut, Indigo Kormblum, Leanne Burke, and Devora Ruderman spoke. 

The Base Board Chairman Richard Corman closed the evening with thanks to all the Board members and volunteers supporting The Base. Multiple volunteers from the US in Israel for short-time volunteer projects also attended including, students and participants to the Mir Yarchie Kallah, parents of lone soldiers, and a volunteer dentist who had worked in a clinic on Thursday.

A father in New Jersey shared with BJL, “As a parent of a Lone Bat Sherut it can be difficult being so far away. Especially on Thanksgiving in the US which is when we are typically all together as a family. But it really feels amazing to know that Molly can have Thanksgiving in a fun and friendly atmosphere with other people her age. And it’s even better knowing that she’s probably having more fun than we are!”

Chava Levin from Baltimore was one of the attendees with her friends, Lilly Cohen from Detroit, and  Zaria Kupietzky. From around the world, Jewish young men and women come together to serve and give thanks on Thanksgiving in Yerushalayim.