Bolot family supports lone soldier clubhouse

March 9, 2016 by Ahuva Bar-Lev
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An upgraded clubhouse for lone soldiers who have immigrated to Israel without their parents has been established in Raanana with the support of JNF Australia and the Bolot family of Sydney, Auckland and London.

Peter Bolot and Shofra Horn Photo Yoav Devir

Peter Bolot and Shifra Horn Photo Yoav Devir

The club was inaugurated at a ceremony attended by immigrant soldiers, members of the Scout Movement, representatives of KKL-JNF and the donors.

“This place is our home, and the club is where we sit together and talk. That’s why it’s so important to us, and so we feel deeply grateful,” explained Vladislav, a young man who emigrated from Ukraine just over a year ago and who is now serving as a combat soldier in the paratroopers.

“It’s an honor for me to be a part of an important project of this kind, and I am the one who should be thanking you,” responded donor Peter Bolot.

The lone soldiers’ residential village, which was established by the Scout Movement’s Garin Tzabar group at the Jewish Agency Absorption Center in Raanana, accommodates around 150 immigrant soldiers. Garin Tzabar has established similar communal accommodation centers in kibbutzim and towns all over Israel. All in all, 1,200 soldiers are currently taking part in the program, and over four hundred others join each year.

The immigrants arrive from all parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Australia, South America, South Africa and the Former Soviet Union. These young Zionists have left their former lives behind and immigrated to Israel in order to serve in the IDF. Most enlist in combat units, and around 70% of them choose to remain in the country after they have completed their military service.

“These soldiers have left their homes and families and immigrated to Israel in order to serve in the army here,” said Gary Vitkin, Executive Director of the Tzabar Scouts Global Division. “The club will contribute to their wellbeing and serve as a meeting place where they can enjoy their free time and lend support to one another.”

Yossi Eshed, KKL-JNF Emissary to New South Wales in Australia, said that KKL-JNF promotes numerous projects for the benefit of people and the land. “These soldiers contribute so much to the country, and providing them with support is the most important thing of all. This club will make a significant difference to their lives. It represents the unity of the Israeli nation and strengthens the sense of togetherness,” he declared.

Prior to the upgrade, the clubhouse in Raanana was old and neglected. Now it is clean and well-organised, freshly painted, and furnished with comfortable sofas and cushions, a television and computer games. Apart from their demanding military duties, these soldiers also have to cope with a new country, a new language and being far away from their families and friends. The garin provides them not only with a place to live, but also with a supportive social framework – and therein lies the club’s particular importance.

Alon Kuba, Director of Garin Tzabar, explains that the project’s main function is to foster group living. “We are a family for life, and if the garin is our home, then the new clubhouse is the living room,” he said. “The life of an immigrant soldier is not easy, and the clubhouse is their own place where they can meet, chat and support one another.”

This is not the first donation that JNF Australia has made to the Raanana residential village: about a year ago the Triguboff Gardens – a green landscaped corner with a lawn, a wooden deck and seating areas – were inaugurated adjacent to the clubhouse.

The establishment of the clubhouse was a family project in which father Peter Bolot was joined by his three sons, TimBen and Josh, and, of course, by his wife, the well-known Israeli writer Shifra Horn. In his speech Peter Bolot mentioned his profound emotional connection to the JNF, which dates back to his childhood when he saved coins to drop into the Blue Box. “I even met my wife through a JNF event in Australia,” he revealed with a broad smile.

The modest ceremony was conducted by Gideon Shavit, a former Scout and a former KKL-JNF emissary in Australia. After the speeches, an appreciatory plaque was unveiled, and all those present stayed in the clubhouse to chat for a while. It was moving to see how Israelis and Australians, young soldiers from all over the world and older people, Scout Movement officials and KKL-JNF representatives all found a common language. But didn’t we already mention that the clubhouse symbolizes national unity and togetherness?



One Response to “Bolot family supports lone soldier clubhouse”
  1. Dorothy Finlay says:

    Great to read of your wonderful link with helping the lone soldiers in Israel-kul kavod Peter and Shifna. Very interesting article.

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