Israeli embassies in Poland and United Kingdom have decided to honor a Holocaust survivor who has an unusual years-long tradition by handing out falafel to locals in an effort to raise awareness about Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The diplomatic missions to Warsaw and London launched so-called "Operation: Dugo" in honor of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day next Wednesday.
The campaign drew inspiration from 90-year-old Holocaust survivor David "Dugo" Leitner, who eats a falafel every year on January 18, the day on which SS units began evacuating prisoners from the Auschwitz death, marching them on foot, as Soviet soldiers were approaching.
Leitner, who was just a boy back then, recalled how he fantasized about eating bilkelach - mini challah rolls that his mother Golda said were in abundance in Israel - to cheer himself up and help weather through the march.
After surviving the Holocaust, Leitner migrated to Israel. There, he visited the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem where he tried falafel for the first time.
Since then, Leitner has made it a personal tradition to eat falafel, which reminded him of the bilkelach his mother told him about, each year on January 18 to celebrate his survival.
This year, some of the Israeli embassies decided to embrace Dugo's tradition and use it to raise awareness of the remembrance of the Holocaust.
As part of the campaign to spread David Leitner's story in Poland, the embassy in Warsaw handed out falafel to passersby in the city center.
The mission in London, meanwhile, donated one hundred falafel portions to a homeless shelter.
"Operation Dugo" has reached leading media outlets both in Poland and the UK and was accompanied by an information campaign on social media. Several famous Polish figures also took part in the campaign and called on the Polish public to join in as well.