We receive numerous questions about what we’re doing for the soldiers now deployed along the outskirts of Gaza. Here are some detailed answers to the most common questions we’re asked.
Why do the soldiers need anything from us? Don’t they get it from the army already?
Not really. Of course the army supplies the soldiers with regular meals, tents to sleep in, and all the supplies they need for operational purposes. The other stuff, while important, is far down on the priority list for the army, and not always in the budget.
Trying to feed tens of thousands of people is a complicated task. And sometimes the soldiers have to wait well into the afternoon before the food truck pulls up to their staging area. When we’ve show up first, we’ve been told that we had the first food they’ve eaten in a day.
Soldiers are called up abruptly, which disrupts their lives, to put it mildly. While trying to tie up loose ends, calm their families, and mentally prepare themselves for their upcoming responsibilities, a forgotten toothbrush or extra pair of socks is understandable.
While there are actually mobile laundry units, the amenities of daily life are sparse. We have witnessed a fresh, clean pair of socks make a soldier cry.
How do you decide who to visit? Can you bring something to my father/son/brother/sister/daughter?
Standing Together coordinates with organizations within the IDF to get to the soldiers who need what we’re bringing most urgently. Sometimes, we just get lucky and find a staging area, much to our delight. And theirs.
Standing Together has express permission to pass through military checkpoints to reach the soldiers.
While we would love to be able to bring personal items to individual soldiers, we don’t know what that soldier’s status is going to be at any given time, or even where to find them.
Isn’t what you’re doing dangerous?
Absolutely. We are constantly in danger from rockets and mortar fire from Gaza. We have been within meters of falling rockets. Volunteers who come with us do so with the knowledge that they are entering a war zone.
Are you a religious organization?
No. While the founder and the director of operations are religious Jews, Standing Together does not promote religious ideology or practices while visiting the soldiers. Our volunteers and supporters come from all over the world, representing all faiths. We don’t differentiate between a soldier with or without a kippah, Druze, or anything else. To us, they’re simply brave IDF soldiers. That being said, we get random requests (quietly) for extra kippot and help with saying blessings on food. As the saying goes, there are no atheists in a war zone…
There is an obligation, detailed by Maimonides, for anyone who is unable to join the army on the battlefield to make sure the soldiers have adequate supplies. This is the religious principle that Standing Together is founded on.
What do you do when there isn’t a war?
The same exact thing. We bring food and drinks to soldiers on duty at checkpoints and on bases throughout Israel almost every night of the week. We barbecue on Army bases for Israel’s Independence Day. We bring families to bases to celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. You can read more about what we do in the Programs section of our website.