Every year, hundreds of young men and women come to Israel from around the world to serve in the IDF, risking their own lives to protect the lives of the Jewish nation. Chayal el Chayal’s mission is to provide a warm and welcoming family to these Lone Soldiers. We provide an invaluable framework of assistance in the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of their daily lives, ensuring that their every need is taken care of.
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At eighteen years old, Mordechai (Mordy) Botnick left his hometown of Ottawa, Canada to join the IDF as a Lone Soldier. Arriving at Ben Gurion Airport after midnight with nowhere to go and a mere forty dollars in his pocket, Mordy took a taxi to Jerusalem and got off at the Shuk Mahane Yehuda. He found a small quiet corner in the market to lay down his bags and catch a few hours of sleep. His journey had begun.
In the morning, Mordy gave a call to a Rabbi whom he was told might be able to help him out. Rabbi A invited him into his Yeshiva a few minutes away, and Mordy spent the next few months there finishing up the enlistment process and beginning his volunteer military service in Netzach Yehuda (’Nachal Haredi’). With training over and just a few months left to his service, one off weekend Mordy found himself without an invitation to a Shabbat meal. Rather than being alone, he gathered some fellow Lone Soldiers in the same situation and arranged to share the Shabbat meal. Mordy’s experience revealed the need for more and he continued hosting meals as often as possible. After his service, Mordy made Aliyah and Chayal el Chayal was born.
Within a year he was joined by a fellow Former Lone Soldier, Ari Abramowitz from Monsey, New York, who made Aliyah with his family to join the Botnick’s. Together, Chayal el Chayal – literally “Soldier to Soldier” – has continued to grow and make a difference in the lives of hundreds of Lone Soldiers.