A group of young Israeli soldiers arrived in Minneapolis last week to share their stories and learn about life in the American Jewish Diaspora.
The delegation from the Israel Defense Forces Reconnaissance Unit is part of the Parallel Lives program (in Hebrew, Zehut l’Chaim), which is sponsored primarily by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. This is third delegation of IDF officers hosted by the Minneapolis Jewish community in as many years.
“A principle goal of the program is to create a bridge and a deeper sense of Jewish identity between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora — specifically Minneapolis,” explained Eilat Harel, director of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Israel Center.
The Parallel Lives program aims to provide people in the United States, both Jews and non-Jews, with a greater understanding of Israeli military life, and strengthen popular support for Israel, according to Harel.
The visiting Israeli soldiers, who range from 20 to 23 years old, have gone through rigorous training in becoming members of the IDF’s elite Paratroopers Reconnaissance Unit; two of them served in the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead operation in the Gaza Strip.
During their visit here, the IDF officers will make about three dozen presentations in Minneapolis area Jewish schools and synagogues. They participated in last Sunday’s Yom HaShoah commemoration at Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka, and also will take part in upcoming Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) activities. TheyÂ alsoÂ are speaking to groups of Christian clergy.
The May 13 print edition of the American Jewish World will have a feature story on the Parallel Lives delegation. To subscribe to the American Jewish World, call Lori at 952-259-5237, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is great! I am planning on attending and seeing them at the upcoming Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom Haâ€™atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) activities.