Hundreds of gay Israeli families have offered to host ‘lone’ soldiers over the upcoming holiday period in Israel, in a bid to show their sense of kinship with the Israeli army.
A soldier is classified as ‘lone’ if they have no immediate family in Israel or are not in contact with their families.
And for these soldiers, spending the upcoming High Holidays alone may be a terribly lonely thing to do.
The High Holidays – better known as the High Holy Days – refer to the period comprising of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year on 3 October, with an additional national public holiday the next day) and Yom Kippur (also known as the Day of Atonement, on 12 October).
The initiative was pioneered by Omer Nachmani, who has led recent protests in the country urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognise same-sex partners of fallen soldiers and terrorism victims as bereaved as well as to make policy changes that would allow Israeli soldiers to march in the country’s pride parades. The initiative also comes after the relatively recent series of harsh anti-gay statements made by religious leaders both in and out of the army.
Nachmani, who is also a reserves officer himself, published a YouTube video in which several same-sex families introduce themselves and invite ‘lone’ soldiers to celebrate the holidays with them.
According to Nachmani, many ‘lone’ soldiers have already accepted the invitation.
‘We in the gay community know what it’s like to feel alone,’ said Nachmani.
He added: ‘No one in Israel should feel that way on a holiday eve.’