An Open Letter from an Israeli Soldier

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The co-founder of the Ayalim Association, an organization that was founded in 2002 with the goal of strengthening communities and social involvement in the Negev and Galilee through student and entrepreneur villages, transcribed a letter to his organizational supporters that stands as a true testament to the strength and resilience of an Israeli soldier. The letter was released this week by Merage Foundations.

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From the first day, we have felt we're a part of the ongoing fight that our grandparents started. The fight for the right to live a normal life, as a Jew, in an independent Jewish state.

During peaceful times, Dany Gliksberg is a minimalist who lives to serve and forge transformation and growth in southern Israel. But, when the enemy rises up against Israel, like it has on four separate occasions in his life, Dany must transform himself into a soldier. It is that transformation – the blending of two very separate lives – that shapes his perspective on life as an Israeli soldier affected by the war in Gaza.

During times of peace, Dany spends his days building communities. He is the co-founder of the Ayalim Association, an organization that works to establish student and entrepreneur villages in Israel while integrating social involvement. Students receive academic scholarships and subsidized housing in exchange for volunteer service. To date, there are nearly 2,000 individuals in 21 villages as a result of Ayalim’s work, with more than 800 of these being students who live in villages throughout the Negev and Galilee.

But, in an open letter, Dany describes his outlook as he is called to duty to defend his country, family, and community once again in Operation Protective Edge. Dany states how “from the first day, we have felt we're a part of the ongoing fight that our grandparents started. The fight for the right to live a normal life, as a Jew, in an independent Jewish state.”

An excerpt from Dany’s letter:

Reality has not changed from their [our grandparent's] generation to ours. Operation Protective Edge was the fourth time I was called for an operation as a reserve soldier. The only difference between me and my grandparents is that I don’t expect my grandchildren to have a peaceful life. My friends and I understand that this is the life of an Israeli. An Israeli will always fight for his country's right to exist. The difference between the people fighting and the people back home is that we came to this understanding not with sadden eyes and hearts, but instead, we feel privileged that we have the ability to fight for our families. My grandfather's family, in Europe, did not have that ability. The acts of valor and friendship that one sees in our ranks can give even the pessimist a reason to feel that we are privileged. The dreams of David Ben Gurion and Herzl, of Israel having the most special young people in the world, have been fulfilled in front of my eyes once again.

Read the full letter from Dany on the Merage Foundations’ website: http://www.merage.org/open-letter-israeli-soldier/

The Merage Foundations provided the initial seed funding for Ayalim’s work and continue to partner with them today to promote the future development in the Negev, the southern region of Israel that is a focus area for the Merage Foundations’ investments.

About the Ayalim Association
The Ayalim Association was founded in 2002 by Dany Gliksberg and Matan Dahan with the goal of strengthening existing communities and social involvement in the Negev and Galilee through the establishment of student and entrepreneur villages. This young social entrepreneurship fosters the connection between people and land as well as between the individual and greater society. The students in our villages integrate community building and social outreach. In return for academic scholarships and subsidized housing in the villages, each student in Ayalim volunteers with children in development towns and distressed neighborhoods, and takes part in the association’s special projects, committing 500 hours of community service per year. To date, there are nearly 2,000 individuals in 21 villages as a result of Ayalim’s work, with more than 800 of these being students who live in villages throughout the Negev and Galilee. For more information, please visit http://www.ayalim.org.

About the Merage Foundations
The Merage Foundations are a consortium of grant-making operational non-profits representing three generations of David and Laura Merage’s family. The operational platform was modeled on the successful business ventures of our founding family whose entrepreneurial spirit and management expertise provides a clear road-map for our investing strategy. The Foundations invest in, and take risks with, innovative people and organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.merage.org.

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Carli Franks
Merage Foundations
3037892664 Ext: 265
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