Help us perpetuate Liel’s smile while distributing sandwiches for poor children.

Liel’s smile was his trademark

In September, Mazal, a little woman dressed in black, visited our Jerusalem editorial offices. Although there was sadness in her eyes, she radiated pure life. When I offered her a hand in greeting, she pulled me close and hugged me tightly: “We greet each other like this!” Recalling losing her youngest son during the war in Gaza 5 years ago, brought me to tears. Sergeant Liel Gidoni (20), together with 2 other officers, drew fire from Hamas terrorists in a firefight in Gaza on so called “Black Friday”.

“Grieving over the loss of Liel consumes every moment of my life”, Mazal told me. She had 4 sons all of whom served in combat units. “But at the same time, there is a desire in me to immortalize my son, his smile, his love for children, his character and his values”, she continued. I know what she’s talking about, because we too have four children, and all have served or serve in Combat or special forces. As a mother, I know what she’s talking about and what she feels. Liel’s relentless smile was his trademark. His smiling face became a trademark of the Gaza war. In photos of him, from childhood to his time in the IDF, Liel has a smile on his face. Nothing could take away his smile, not even the strenuous Givati training.

Seeing the smile on photos of Liel moved us to support Mazal’s children’s project. My husband, as did my son Moran, also served in the Givati ​​unit. “There are so many children in the country who go to school every day hungry because their parents do not have the means to feed them. On every sandwich that we distribute to needy school children, we place a sticker with my smiling son. His motto in life was laugh, because it shows joy, and joy gives us the strength to go on! Already as a student, Liel constantly encouraged other schoolmates who had nothing to smile about for various reasons,” Mazal explained.

Mazal told us how, on their last memorial day for Liel, her husband Eli hugged Rabbi Or Ziv and said in tears, “this project gives me strength for life. We want to increase this joy, love and smiles and help as many needy children as possible. We do this for Liel. He was a child himself when he fell only 20 years old. Our soldiers are still like children. Children who protect their parents and their homeland. Believe me, our children are far too compassionate as soldiers, too human and too considerate of the enemy. Your support is a gift to remember Liel, making his smile immortal, and to support more hungry children in our country.”

When the project started 70 sandwiches a day were distributed, today 800 per day are distributed. According to Mazal and Rabbi Ziv, 28 per cent of Israeli school children live below the poverty line. School principals and teachers welcome Liel’s Sandwich Project, as it provides peace of mind to children in the classroom. “A satisfied child is a quiet child that does not interrupt the class and can pay attention.” That Christians want to help spread Liel’s smile and sponsor the distribution of sandwiches is almost incomprehensible to Mazal and Eli. “That’s pure love,” she said! When we finally said goodbye and hugged again, she said something that almost knocked me over and left me speechless. “Considering our fate in this land, people tell me, if you have four sons, one has to realize that this could transpire… ”

– Anat Schneider