While in Israel and around the world families will be gathering for traditional holiday meals, there will be several hundred lone soldiers celebrating faraway from their loved ones, familiar traditions and the nostalgic holiday atmosphere.
Yoni Nadal from Detroit, serving in the paratroopers, and Tory London from Chicago, serving in the Nachshon Battalion, are two of these lone soldiers. Ynet invited them for a holiday talk with their parents and Major Rotem Klein, head of the IDF's lone soldiers department.
"It is both exciting and sad that I'm not at home with my family," says Yoni in a conversation with his mother Ariela, who is at their home in Detroit. It is Yoni's first year as a lone soldier. "It's hard not to be in the synagogue and pray with my father, but you have to value your home and one does this by bringing the home's traditions to Israel."
Ariela Nadal recounts the difficulty and longing, but also the great pride in her soldier son. "We are with him in all our prayers, and our prayers will be much more meaningful this year," she said. "We have a tradition, and I'm sending it over to someone traveling to Israel: a family honey cake recipe, so that he'll feel a bit at home. That's all I can do."
'We will have to start a new tradition'
In contrast to Yoni, Tori has been here for four years, two of them in yeshivah and two in the IDF. But his longing continues, especially to be next to his father during prayers. "I'm used to standing next to my dad during the shofar-blowing, and that's one of the things I'm missing right now," he said.
"We will be thinking about him every minute," says Henry London. "We moved house a few months ago, and we are used to people asking us how Tori is doing and how he is making out in the IDF. This year we will have to start a new tradition."
Yoni will spend the holiday in Ra'anana's hesder yeshivah, while Tory will celebrate it with his younger brother who made aliyah in his footsteps in order to serve in the IDF, and who is currently staying at a hesder yeshivah. "It is very exciting for me," he said.
Ariela Nadal, just at the end of the conversation, asked to wish, on her's and her community in Detroit's behalf, a healthy, successful and peaceful new year for all the people in Israel. Every holiday we are proud of the army protecting us. This year we really feel the prayer 'Our brothers of the house of Israel. We in Detroit accompany you in your prayers in Israel."