Best Day Ever
The Elaine and Norm Brodsky Darkaynu Program enables students with special needs to spend a year in Israel in a unique ‘sidestreamed’ environment that enables them to learn, volunteer, work and experience everything Israel has to offer, providing them with an intense connection to the land and the Jewish people.
Possibly, one of the best ways to experience the ‘real Israel’ is to join millions of Israelis engaging in the unofficial national pastime — having a “mangal,” a traditional outdoor barbecue, on Yom Haatzmaut. And what better way to feel part of the country and develop a personal link to Israelis than by sharing the mangal with IDF soldiers on their base?
This special experience was the brainchild of Ashira Baumol of Efrat, who is performing her second year of National Service as a counselor for Midreshet Darkaynu. Ashira’s older brother, AJ, serves as a platoon commander on the Machane Tzur IDF training base; when he and soldiers didn’t get out for Yom Haatzmaut, Ashira and her parents decided to visit them.
“So many soldiers remain on duty, responsibly protecting us so we can celebrate independence unencumbered,” Ashira (pictured here with AJ) said. “Often their families or volunteers are allowed to visit them on base so they can feel part of the celebrations too.
Bringing my students to be part of that was a win-win all around: the girls were exposed to a quintessential Israeli experience that will indelibly connect them to this country, while the soldiers felt cared for and appreciated. The joy, goodwill and camaraderie in the air that day were palpable.”
The Baumol family barbecue, catered by Harvey’s Smokehouse, served more than 40 soldiers from the Givati Brigade. When it was time for the Darkaynu students to leave, one of the soldiers declared, “This was the best Yom Haatzmaut ever.”
Darkaynu student Tehila Carl (pictured, with purple Givati beret) answered, “No. This was the best day ever!”