JERUSALEM, Israel - A ceremony on Monday dedicated the new Center for Lone Soldiers in Jerusalem, the first of its kind in the country.
Parents of St.-Sgt. Michael Levin, a 21-year-old lone soldier who was killed on August 1, 2006, in Lebanon, called the center "a dream come true."
"It's touch to turn a tragedy into triumph, but that's what we're doing here in Michael's memory, " Levin's father, Mark said.
Some 5,700 lone soldiers, without families in Israel, serve in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
For more than a decade, Pisgat Ze'ev resident Tziki Aud has dedicated much of his time to helping as many lone soldiers as possible.
"Tziki has been helping out soldiers by taking them out for coffee and bringing them into his home for meals, for example, but up until now it's been exclusively out of his own pocket," Cpl. Adam Margolis, an American oleh (immigrant) serving as a liaison to the UN.
"What is happening here is that all Tziki's work is becoming formalized and soldiers now have a place to head to in downtown Jerusalem instead of Tziki's house in Pisgat Ze'ev [a Jerusalem suburb], Margolis said.
The new center, open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., features a kitchen, comfortable sitting area, free Internet access and best of all, a place where lone soldiers can get to know one another and receive practical assistance and advice.
On Thursday and Friday, the center will also provide hot meals for the soldiers.
"We hope to give soldiers a place to come to and people who will listen to them," Aud said.
"They are serving far away from their families, and sometimes all they need is someone to talk to," he said.
Source: The Jerusalem Post