Mobile Sukkah: Bringing holiday cheer to on-duty soldiers

Rotem Eliav

Judea and Samaria Division spreads holiday cheer with a ‘mobile sukkah’

Date: 19/10/2011, 11:53 AM     Author: Rotem Eliav

“Plug in the speakers, Kaplan,” says Master Sgt. Gabriel Cohen, inspection NCO of the Military Rabbinate to his soldier Pvt. Eliyahu Kaplan, and the first Sukkot celebration is underway.

Every holiday the IDF (Zahal) makes sure to give the soldiers spending the celebration guarding at military posts and away from their families, some holiday cheer.

For Sukkot, the Judea and Samaria Division prepared a ‘mobile sukkah’ that travels to the various posts, pillboxes and companies scattered across the region. The decorated and colorful sukkah is placed on a van, playing festive music and bringing the soldiers the Four Species of Sukkot and bags full of snacks and sweets.

“Since they are guarding at small, remote posts, these soldiers wouldn’t have been able to build the traditional sukkah or feel the holiday at all,” explained Master Sgt. Cohen, the event’s organizer. “Seeing a soldier smile when our van arrives at his post is the highlight of my holiday. Combat soldiers work hard and we provide them with whatever they need to celebrate the holiday in the best way possible.”

Staff Sgt. Borris Gross, a soldier of the Kfir Brigade stationed at a post in Benyamin Regional Division for the holiday, explained that his company continues to operate normally during the holiday guarding and going on missions and operations.

“My soldiers work even harder during the holiday so that some of their friends could celebrate at home,” explained company commander at the Kfir Brigade, Cpt. Adir Cohen. “Our company works 24/7 defending Israeli civilians. For us, an event like this is incredible, stepping away from the everyday routine and celebrating a little.”

This is the eighth year the ‘mobile sukkah’ has been travelling to posts in the Benyamin Regional Divion, along Route 60, in the Etzion and Judea Divisions and more, during the week of Sukkot. The three day event is subsidized by the Foundation for the Defense of Israel and organized by the Military Rabbinate, a Corps responsible to provide religious services for soldiers both Jewish and non-Jews at their request.

“Our goal is to boost the morale of the soldiers and allow them to feel some of the holiday celebration away from home,” explained Master Sgt. Cohen.