Ari Fuld of Standing Together is someone who is there for those in the IDF who protect Israel 24/7. Ari’s dedication and energy seem to come from the Hungarian-born, Holocaust-surviving grandmother of whom he speaks so highly — the powerful little woman who told him that America was great for accepting her and so many others. However, America is just a stepping stone, and the final quest is Israel, according to Fuld’s grandmother. In fact, when she was 88 she made the move that her beloved grandson was proud to call his own long before.
Ari Fuld, like so many Yeshiva High School students, continued his journey to Israel in 1991. He decided to make Aliyah and serve in the IDF. In 1993 his dear friend, bunkmate and 2nd gunner, Jason Yehoshua Friedberg, was kidnapped. Friedberg’s tefillin and wallet were found on the side of the road. Days later, his body was found as well. As Ari Fuld told that story to those of us gathered at Ory and Linda Schwartz’s home recently, I cried. Jason Friedberg was born in Montreal, so his story is etched in my mind. I can picture his family rabbi having to break the news to a devastated community. I know how his teachers and classmates reacted, because I have relatives who walked those mournful hallways. Ari Fuld joined others in the search to find Jason and broke down when they did. That heartache never ends, especially when years later you hear news that Friedberg’s murderers were released in order for Israel to get Gilad Shalit freed. As Ari says, in Israel “cease fire” means we “cease” and they “fire.”
Ari Fuld seems even more determined to fight for Israel and, although now older than many reservists, still dedicated to do his part. He served in Lebanon in 2006. His unit was the second group in, and they were put in charge of 35 terrorists while Hezbollah was firing from every direction. IDF soldiers were falling everywhere. Once able, the group walked back to Israel through mountains without water, food or sleep. It took eighteen hours, but such is the life of those sent to protect our nation from the Arab militants surrounding Israel on all sides — the nations who strive to destroy us.
“Reality is reality and you know you may not come back from war. You may be giving your children their last bracha.”
After returning from Lebanon, the troops were met by David Landau, who founded Standing Together 24/7. Landau, who happens to be Rabbi Joel’s brother, had a vehicle filled with supplies — everything from water to food to clean socks and underwear. Landau handed out letters to the weary soldiers from strangers telling them thanks for their service. If ever they doubted their worth, this boost was so appreciated.
Meanwhile, Fuld returned from his latest term, filled with anxiety and confusion. He did not want the medals awarded him but something that could help make sense of what had happened. Between losing Yehoshua Friedberg and his more recent ordeal in Lebanon, even the love of his family was not enough. One door closed and another opened when Landau called and offered Fuld a job with Standing Together 24/7. Fuld says it is not his job but his mission to help make Standing Together successful and by making soldiers’ lives a bit easier. In fact, besides helping those in the field, Standing Together also aids those who have become injured. Standing Together 24/7 purchases microwave ovens that IDF soldier-patients have by their hospital beds to greatly aid their loved ones who visit as well.
Standing Together 24/7 is a non-profit organization “dedicated to making a difference to those who make a difference in Israel.” Every IDF soldier faces emotional and physical pressures that are often shared with family members. We need to show our appreciation by giving our support and admiration:
This can mean getting school age children to write letters to those stationed on army bases throughout Israel. This is a great way to boost the moral especially of Lone Soldiers who are so far away from their family and friends.
Schools and youth groups can hold drives to purchase warm gloves and socks. Organizations can sponsor a Coffee and Cake Project, Mishloach Manot, Ice Cream, Pizza or Chanukah Donut Party — $5 per soldier, $500 for 100 soldiers…
A Water Pack Campaign is an essential need for those soldiers who must keep hydrated. Each water pack costs $35. Warm Winter Gear includes a waterproof jacket, wind-block face mask, thermal hats and apparel for $100 per soldier.
A new Standing Together IDF Truck can serve 1,000 soldiers per day supplying refreshments and operational gear. The truck will have a high-powered generator, built-in grill, freezer, coffee machine, slushy machine and phone chargers. It will be able to transport volunteers and sponsors to meet soldiers in the field. The original 15-year-old vehicle has served tens of thousands, and a new truck is desperately needed. Having a second truck also means being able to service soldiers in the north and south of Israel at all times. The estimated cost is $180,000. It would be an amazing community-wide project.
For tax-deductible donations, make check out to Central Fund of Israel and mail to:
Friends of Standing Together
17 E. Stemmer Ln.
Ari Fuld is hoping to come to Orange County again before Chanukah. Please let me know if you are interested in hosting or attending an event. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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