A Jewish mother’s way to the soldiers’ stomachs

I spend the week cooking for those who defend Israel. Whenever they thank us, we always answer: No, it's you we are thanking
Shabbat food prepared for the IDF soldiers out in the field. (courtesy)
Shabbat food prepared for the IDF soldiers out in the field. (courtesy)

Back in January, I joined a group of volunteers who make Shabbat food for the soldiers in the field, It’s a logistical puzzle, to be sure — who is preparing which meals for whom. I’m grateful to the sponsors who donate funds that make it possible for me to make meals for soldiers each week. Back in March, I had a surprise sponsor. Here’s how it happened:

I had ordered several items from a random Israeli hardware store website, and unfortunately, they sent me the wrong items — which were worth much more. I wrote an email to the company letting them know they sent me the wrong ones. I asked if they had the items I had ordered.

I didn’t hear back for a few days, and when I did, I got a message like, “We are so sorry — yes, we made a mistake. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ones you ordered. We can send a messenger to pick up the ones you received, or we can credit you half of what you paid.”

Huh? You’ll pay me half of what I paid to keep the goods?

So, I wrote back and said, “Bummer that you don’t have the ones I ordered. I looked online, and it looks like the ones you sent me were worth more than what I paid, so while I don’t want to pay *more* than what I already paid, I don’t need a credit.”

I jokingly added, “But, if you do want to give me a credit, I will use the money to send more food for Shabbat meals for soldiers.”

The reply I got blew my mind. Like, “Yehudit, if you’re going to use the money to send food to soldiers, we’re not crediting you half — we’re crediting you the entire amount.”

The next email was the credit back to my credit card. I got the goods for free, so I could use the money to send food to soldiers.

I was crying, and I told them so — and I told them I’d make more fish and more chicken with the money they sent.

So, back in March, between the contribution from that company and my own money, I was able to send:

Chicken – 44 portions
Fish – 24 portions
Potatoes – 100 portions
Rice – 60 portions
Veggies – 60 portions
Cabbage salad – 4 liters (~1 gallon)
Chocolate chip cookie sticks – 200
Challah – 34 challot (~8 kilos of flour, ~17.5 pounds)

I still can’t believe that this random website with which I’d never had any contact did this act of kindness.

And then I posted the story on social media, and because of the post, I got a sponsor who has contributed every week, so I can keep cooking.

Now it’s June and this week, I got to ride along with the driver to deliver the meals to the soldiers, and I’m so grateful for that.

We went to three bases down south.

The first base was outside of Be’er Sheva. The soldiers – reservists, who came out to pick up the food were in their 40s and 50s. They were so grateful and thanked us repeatedly — to which we replied that we are thanking them. These soldiers said that their guys were part of the group that evacuated Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7/8/9. The things they have seen are beyond horrific, and they are still fighting for Israel’s existence.

The second base was further south, where we went to drop off vegan meals for a couple of soldiers. The soldier who came out for the food said he isn’t the vegan — he was making sure his guys were taken care of. We took good care of them.

The third base was even further south — a few minutes from the Gaza border, not far from Egypt. This “base” was actually in a small civilian village. You drive into the village, and it is gorgeous — nice houses, green trees. Really lovely. And you see a nice playground with bomb shelters on every side of it. When we get to the location to drop off the food, it is a house in a neighborhood. The house is totally empty except for a folding table and a warming plate. Maybe they had a fridge somewhere, but I didn’t see it. They had showers outside somewhere. The yard was full of jeeps and other military vehicles.

These guys looked like they had been working so, so hard. They had a huge dog sleeping in the room where the folding table was, and the dog didn’t even flinch when we came in.

The soldiers get food from the military — they aren’t starving for food.

But the love they feel when they’re getting homemade food for Shabbat dinner is so much more than nutrients. I cannot express how much every interaction was a matter of: “Thank you!” “No, thank you!” We are so grateful to them for putting their lives on the line to protect our right to our homeland.

By the way — it took us less than 2.5 hours, including a gas/bathroom/drink break — to get from near the southern border back home. Imagine someplace 2-to-2.5 hours away from your home being invaded by rapists and murderers who shoot rockets all the time. Is that acceptable?

What I had thought about, but hadn’t realized how much it would hit me, was that we’d be driving down the same roads where people were massacred exactly eight months before. Seeing makeshift memorials on the side of the road. Seeing roads that were still burned out on the sides. Seeing signs for the cities and kibbutzim that were attacked. Seeing intersections that looked familiar, because of the videos of October 7th. Seeing roads that were brand new, and thinking that they may well be new because they were so trashed before from the burned cars and bullets and worse. Seeing a burned-out car off the road, in a field, and wondering whether it was still there from eight months ago, or it was something else.

It is so far from what I can accept as reality that eight months later, we are still trying to care about what the “world” thinks, and not doing everything in our power to wipe out Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. It is unbelievable to me that American and European politicians are so filled with a savior complex that they think they know better than we do what we need to survive here. Or, alternatively, that they are so antisemitic that, at best, they don’t care if horrific crimes are committed against our babies, children, teens, and adults, and at worst are content or even happy about it.

And our soldiers, G-d bless them, only have to see any media to see that we have people here in Israel who are so bent on their own agendas that they don’t seem to care if our soldiers have died for nothing, or that the world seems to think we should put down our weapons and let the Arabs slaughter us.

So, when people ask me how I find the time to cook every week, my response is how could I not? I need to do something. I plan my whole week around how I can cook as much food as possible for them. I need them to be able to sit down to a meal and, even if the food isn’t to their taste (though I hope it is!), feel the love that we are sending.

By the way, the funny-not-funny joke in my family is that I love to feed people… just not my own family. They eat frozen pizzas and schnitzel during the week while I cook real food for the soldiers.

The group of people preparing Shabbat food for the soldiers is part of a nationwide group of groups — there are around 40, I think. Our group is from our city. The food goes to soldiers on bases all over the country, including going *in* to Gaza. Some time ago, for example, soldiers in Khan Younis got our food for Shabbat. If you would like to help sponsor these meals for the soldiers, please reach out — I know people who would be happy to help me do the work of cooking/preparing on your behalf.

About the Author
Yehudit Lindblom was born in 1971, but became herself when made aliyah in 2004 and when she became a mom in 2010. She writes, but most often uses the backspace key to try to keep herself out of trouble. Meanwhile, she works to support her family, loves to help people learn, and hates willful ignorance. Yehudit lives in Maale Adumim.
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