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Friday, May 05, 2006

Photo Friday (vol. LXIII) [Pina Chama edition]

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut (Israel Independence Day) just wouldn't be the same without our annual outing to volunteer at the local Pina Chama (literally: warm corner), a small prefab building where the communities of Gush Etzion conspire to spoil the men and woman from all over Israel whose service in the IDF brings them to our area.

Throughout the year... Sunday through Thursday from morning 'til evening... any soldier can stop in and find free cold or hot drinks, home baked cookies and cakes (all donated/baked by residents of Gush Etzion)... as well as a couple of volunteer dodim/dodot (aunts and uncles) to make sure everything is served up with a smile.

But on Yom Ha'Atzma'ut all the stops are pulled out and an all-day mangel (BBQ) is arranged for the soldiers.  From 11:00 AM until almost nightfall hundreds of soldiers stop by in Jeeps, ambulances, troop carriers and on foot.  They are tired and dirty and far from family and friends on this holiday... so the communities in our area do everything possible to make sure they feel appreciated.

Burgers, hotdogs, chicken wings, kababs, and even steaks crowd the grill from morning till dusk and a dizzying array of salads, cakes, cookies, drinks and fresh breads round out the meal.

It seems that as soon as a soldier leaves to return to his/her post, another grabs a plate and sits down to eat.  Periodically a radio call comes in with numbers of troops that are stationed in remote outposts who can't make it in to the Pina Chama and the volunteer dodot and dodim fly into action packing up meals to be taken out to them by jeeps that are just leaving.

This year fellow blogger Cara was with us for the holiday and spent her last day in Israel lending a hand serving the troops.  Now the cynical among you might think she was just trying meet some of these cute soldiers, but Cara has a heart of gold and I'm sure that such selfish motives were only 3rd or 4th on her list of reasons for volunteering.  :-)

This first picture is of Gilad (in Red Sox cap) and a friend with a group of soldiers who had just pulled up in their Jeep.  The soldier on the right looks eerily like Psychotoddler:


Gili_and_friends

Next up is a peek inside the Pina Chama.  You'll notice that every inch of wall space and ceiling is crowded with thank you notes scribbled on unit flags, shoulder tags and other military souvenirs left by the grateful soldiers throughout the year.


Inside_the_pina

There were also plenty of tables outside where the overflow crowd enjoyed their meals:
Two_officers

Chayal1

And they just kept arriving...
More_chayalim

I wouldn't want anyone to think that only men serve in the field, so here are a couple of some equally tired and dusty Chayalot (female soldiers):
Chayelet1_1

Chalelet

And what about food?  You want to see food?
Full_plate
... and more food (this is some of the volunteers packing meals to send out to soldiers who couldn't make it in from their outposts)...

Preparing_mealstogo

As usual, I took my place serving as head griller and designated smoke magnet:
Smokey_conditions
This should give you an idea of the yummy selection:
Seasoning

That's about it for pictures this week, but trust me when I tell you that these few images don't even come close to conveying the parade of soldiers that came through the Pina Chama all day or how appreciative they were of a nice Mangel so far from the comfort of home.

If you'd like to make a contribution to the Pina Chama please send checks to:

The Pina Chama
8/2 Rechov Haziporen
Efrat, 90435
ISRAEL

Or to volunteer as a Dod or Doda serving cakes and drinks to the soldiers for a couple of hours during a visit to Israel, please send me an email (treppenwitz AT gmail DOT com) and I will put you in touch with the volunteer coordinator.

Here are the treppenwitz Yom Ha'Atzma'ut posts from the past couple of years:

Last year

Two yeas ago

Shabbat Shalom!
220_31_3

Posted by David Bogner on May 5, 2006 | Permalink

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I didn't check to see exactly what I said last year, but I'm sure it was pretty similar to what I will say this year. That is so terrific that the Pina Chama exists and that you and your family and all the others volunteer. What the Israeli soldiers do for us is immeasurable. I'm sure it feels good to give back in some small way. That barbeque looks terrific! And that guy does look like Psychotoddler...how eerie!
Shabbat Shalom.

Posted by: Essie | May 5, 2006 3:45:11 PM

Shabbat Shalom!
I agree with Essie... nice to 'give back'.

Posted by: val | May 5, 2006 4:42:28 PM

What a great idea. Our yishuv is much smaller than Efrat, but maybe if we get together with some others we could do something similar. Right now we buy junk food once a week and deliver it to the few machsomim (checkpoints) in the area. (I also think those great pictures of cute soldiers is a great advertisement for aliya..)

Posted by: westbankmama | May 5, 2006 4:54:32 PM

Rowr. *cough* What a great way to give back to these young men and women who give so much. Awesome. (And that spread is making my stomach growl.)

Posted by: Tanya | May 5, 2006 5:02:00 PM

Those were great pictures! Yes, everything looked yummy but I am sure the prevailing feeling of everyone involved was joy and pride and a sense of gratitude to these fine young men and women.
And, I have to say, as a woman, those guys are cute! Oh, and you are, too, of course, David- even through all the smoke!

Posted by: Regina Clare Jane | May 5, 2006 5:47:16 PM

Pictures made me completely homesick, especially the food, I think I am long overdue a visit.
I'm with Regina on the guys (takes me back to my youth), especially the one in picture number 4. That one's a keeper!

Posted by: lisoosh | May 5, 2006 6:58:55 PM

I am much taller. But I totally dig the glasses.

Posted by: psychotoddler | May 5, 2006 8:09:28 PM

What a wonderful idea! I wish I were in Israel so I could help out...

Posted by: Irina | May 5, 2006 8:29:04 PM

Yiasher Kochachem. Amazing.

Posted by: Ezzie | May 5, 2006 9:52:22 PM

Is it just me or all almost all of those chayalim and chayalot gorgeous!?

Posted by: ball-and-chain | May 5, 2006 11:17:08 PM

that's quite a spread, and it looks quite delicious. it is making my mouth water.

Posted by: no milk | May 6, 2006 2:49:08 AM

Trep - you definitely have us women drooling here and not because of the food.

Wow - those are some cute guys! Yummy!

Oh and btw, that's really awesome what you and the other voluteers do for them.

Posted by: jaime | May 6, 2006 5:36:03 AM

Nice to see the boys and girls in green again, last time I met them they were down here helping "my people"...I didn't make it to Israel but Israel came to me.

Keep up the good work David.

Posted by: pk | May 6, 2006 10:00:20 AM

that's such a great idea.
kol hakavod to all the volunteers.
shavua tov!

Posted by: Sarah | May 6, 2006 2:22:04 PM

Trepp, beautiful pictures.
But Psychotoddler is waaaay more handsome.

Posted by: Randi(cruisin-mom) | May 6, 2006 5:59:24 PM

Essie... I have to admit it is humbling when they all come over and thank US as they leave. Maybe next year you can join us.

Val... It does feel good... especially since they said I was too old to be drafted! Harumph!

Westbankmama... The Gush Etzion Pina Chama is supplied and operated by all of the yeshuvim in the Gush. No one community could keep this sort of thing going. If you're interested I can put you in touch with the coordinators who can give you an idea of exactly how many volunteers it takes and what kind of budget it requires.

Tanya... That 'rowr' was your stomach growling??? Coulda fooled me! :-)

Regina Clare Jane... Nice catch there at the end... wouldn't want to offend the host. :-) Don't worry. I've made my peace with being virtually invisible to women under 30.

Lisoosh... What was your husband's email address again? :-)

Psychotoddler... Aw c'mon... you have to admit there's a strong resemblance, no?

Irina... Any particular reason you couldn't join us next year? They have regularly scheduled flights to this part of the world, y'know! :-)

Ezzie... Baruch Tihiyeh.

Ball-and-Chain... Actually you got me. We set up a road block a half a kilometer from the Pina Chama and only let the cute soldiers through. :-) I'm sure it's just that your hubby is away in the wilds of Wisconsin making you, er, appreciate the aesthetic beauty of healthy young men. ;-)

No Milk... And the great thing is not a drop of milk in sight! This is a secret many lactose intolerant people have learned: Go to a kosher meat restaurant and you can order anything on the menu (including dessert) without hesitation because no dairy products are allowed!

Jaime... Yeah, "oh by the way..." cough, cough. :-)

PK... They're a welcome sight for us here as well (and I see them every day!).

Sarah... Thanks. A good time was had by all.

Randi... I'm sure after a few days of living out in the field even Pyschotoddler's legendary good looks would be a bit rough around the edges. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 7, 2006 10:10:00 AM

Ha - we have a deal. He gets to dream about Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order SVU) and I get to ogle George Clooney.
Plus he has no e-mail, keeps using mine.

Posted by: lisoosh | May 8, 2006 12:26:39 AM

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