Two rabbinical students and a local scribe from the southern Israeli city of Arad brought Purim festivities to soldiers stationed at a nearby Negev Desert army base.

Echoing the work of hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and volunteers throughout the Holy Land, Rabbi Dovid Granat, Schneur Slapoznik and Fishel Eldin brought their own Scroll of Esther and traditional gift baskets of food to the soldiers at Tel Arad.

Dispatched by Arad Chabad House director Rabbi Avraham Zalmanov, 18-year-old Slapoznik and 20-year-old Fishel Eldin had considerable experience at such visits by the time Purim arrived Saturday night. Granat, a Latin American immigrant who recently joined the staff of the Chabad House, was recruited to accompany them.

“I've been going out since I was eight or nine years old,” said Slapoznik, who studies at Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim in Kfar Chabad. “I used to join the men when they visited bases and other places.”

Last year, Slapoznik organized his own crew.

“That time I brought eight other boys,” he stated.

Schneur Slapoznik reads from the Scroll of Esther at an Israeli army base.
Schneur Slapoznik reads from the Scroll of Esther at an Israeli army base.

“We made the place quite lively.”

After the experience, Slapoznik decided to return to Tel Arad to ensure that the soldiers had ample opportunities to listen to the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the megillah.

“We told the commanding officer we would be there to read the megillah both in the evening and the morning,” the student related.

“They knew we were coming, but they didn’t expect the food packages we brought along for them,” he added. “They were really touched.”