A caring mother and grandmother, Bonnie Rosenbaum also organizes home-cooked meals for countless lone soldiers of the IDF, and the food is prepared with love.
Bonnie Rosenbaum, who made aliyah (immigration to Israel) almost four years ago, is among thousands of idealistic, enthusiastic newcomers from around the world who make a meaningful difference in society. In Rosenbaum’s case, the contribution is to the well-being of “lone soldiers” – young men and women who hail from diverse countries in order to serve in the IDF and protect the State of Israel.
True to the image of the typical “Jewish mother,” Rosenbaum, a mother of seven and grandmother of four, organizes home-cooked meals for lone soldiers across the country, and the recipes include the special ingredient of love. It is one of the many important initiatives of the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. Founded in 2009 by a group of former lone soldiers familiar with the challenges faced by close to 6,000 IDF soldiers from abroad, it is the first and only organization solely dedicated to meeting all of their physical and social needs. For example, besides providing emergency support in cases of injury, passing of immediate family members and financial difficulties, among many other efforts, participants also join in happy occasions such as holidays and milestone events.
According to the Center’s site, the “mission is to assist lone soldiers before, during, and after their army service. We provide them with food, laundry, basic necessities, equipment, advice, seminars, social events, monthly Shabbat meals and more. By giving lone soldiers physical and emotional support, we help them get through the difficulties that the army presents.”
Rosenbaum, 47, was approached by the Center in January to help coordinate Friday-night Shabbat meals in Jerusalem. “I posted on Facebook as well as emailed as many people that I knew to see if anyone would like to get involved,” she told United with Israel in a telephone interview. “The response was overwhelming. Within in the first week I had 15 communities [in various parts of the country] who signed up to get involved.
“Since its inception in January almost 3,000 meals have been cooked by these communities,” she continues. “Since there was such a huge response, we have now started sending Friday night meals to the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center in Tel Aviv as well.”
Communities also began cooking for the lone soldiers not only for Friday night means, Rosenbaum explains, but also for holidays and landmark events such as Basic Training graduations and other milestones that native Israeli soldiers celebrate with their families. Not only do these volunteers prepare meals, but they also participate actively in the programs, offering warmth, support and friendship.
The lone soldiers eat nutritious, home-cooked food made by people who “truly care about their well-being,” Rosenbaum says. “The food is always delicious and different because each community brings their own special touch to the meal.”
Rosenbaum’s next two goals are to create food vouchers for local supermarkets that would be given to soldiers prior to a Shabbat or holiday and to organize coupons enabling them to buy ready-made, takeout food if they get off duty too late to prepare their own food. “This will allow them to have a meal free of charge,” she says.
She also assists students who come to study in Israel for a year in setting up their dormitories or apartments “with all necessary items to make their year here as comfortable as possible,” such as linens, towels and small appliances.
This work is only one aspect of Rosenbaum’s busy and productive life. A resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, she owns and operate Bubbie’s Babka, which caters food and baked goods as well as making customized gift packages.