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Nearly 250 Israel Air Force Airmen spent Purim at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and in Bangor, Maine while taking part in the US Air Force’s Red Flag aerialcombat training exercise. Thanks to the newly formalized partnership between Aleph Institute and the IDF, Aleph was able to assist the IDF to ensure megillah readings occurred at multiple locations, coordinating between the IDF Rabbinate, local Chabad rabbis in Las Vegas, and the Nellis Air Force Base chapel team, as well as sending 250 mishloach manot packages to the entire IDF team.

“The support we’ve received from Aleph and Chabad has been a real breath of fresh air,” says Meir, a member of the IDF delegation. “Leaving Israel to head across the world for this mission, and landing somewhere where all of our spiritual needs are taken care of—it means a lot to us.”

“Despite only launching recently, the Aleph-IDF partnership has already seen incredible results,” says Rabbi Elie Estrin, Aleph’s Military Personnel Liaison. “It’s been truly symbiotic. We’ve been able to assist them with several missions here in the US, and they joined our Military Symposium last month, sharing their expertise in several areas.”

Following the Purim celebrations, Estrin and two other chaplains, CH (CPT) Elisar Admon, USAR, and Ch, Capt Yosef Zarnighian, USAFR, spent successive Shabbats with the IAF team, providing spiritual uplift and inspiration. “We are here to make sure their visit to the US is as successful spiritually as it is militarily,” Estrin adds. “Our US military partnership with the IDF is a strategic one, and the Chaplain Corps has what to add to that mix.”

According to Colonel Avner Cohen, IDF Rabbinate Chief of Staff, more IDF representatives are going abroad for short and long term duty and “the IDF is struggling in giving a holistic religious response to these personnel serving abroad,” he says. “Therefore, [we] established a connection with the Aleph Institute in order to improve this response. The Aleph Institute is ready to help by any means necessary so that IDF soldiers and commanders [will] be able to maintain religious life and practices… We are very thankful for this emerging cooperation and hope to deepen our conversations and work together.”

Originally published in the Pesach 5783 issue of the Jewish American Warrior.