As an old saying goes, "the best way to a person's heart is to his stomach."
Giving food is one of the oldest human expressions of love and affection because of its abundantly filling nature and the love that comes with its preparation. It is such a personal act.
That’s what Menachem Kuchar thought in 2002.
Menachem's deed of giving food began on Passover in 2002 when a group of elderly people was having a nice seder dinner at the Park Hotel in Netanya. A suicide bomber, later identified as a member of Hamas, entered the building and triggered the explosives strapped in his body. The incident caused the death of over 30 civilians and injured more than a hundred others. This event was one of the deadliest attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada.
Menachem, an Australian-Israeli Jew who made Aliyah to Israel in 1983, and who was then already engaged in the Mishloach Manot initiative for IDF soldiers, started looking for a way to boost the morale of IDF soldiers who were at the front lines and bearing the brunt of Hamas’ deadly assaults.
Drawing from his strong community ties and his deep knowledge of the internet, which was then young technology, (he was a software engineer based in Jerusalem), he founded PizzaIDF.
Since then, PizzaIDF has not stopped delivering to IDF soldiers. It delivers an average of 10,000 pizza pies yearly to soldiers all across Israel and has offered other food items to keep the donations more exciting for its recipients.
Over the years, PizzaIDF has sent falafels, soups, burgers, and doughnuts for Hannukah to soldiers. But more importantly, it sends thousands of Mishloach Manot to soldiers annually, just as it has done even before the organisation was founded in 2002.
In 2012, Menachem’s 2nd son, Elisha Kuchar, and his wife Tanya took over the day-to-day operations of PizzaIDF. Through their efforts, they have grown PizzaIDF and have been its global ambassadors.
““I’m proud of my Australian roots,” said Elisha, “I love Australia and I love Israel. And keeping my father’s legacy of giving has become my own life’s mission. I hope it gives pride to the people of Israel and Australia.”.
The year 2022 marks PizzaIDF’s 20th anniversary, which it celebrates with enormous joy, but also with solemn commemoration. It celebrates the birth of an organisation that brings the joy of giving straight to the stomachs of Israel’s defenders while remembering the brutal and horrific tragedy that led to its inception.
At this time of great celebration and the great deeds, PizzaIDF has done for Israeli soldiers, Elisha reminds us: "We must never forget the tragedy that brought us here. But we are paying tribute to those victims, and other victims of terrorism, every day by sending pizzas to the men and women who are keeping the State of Israel safe."
Jews and Israel-loving supporters around the world can make a donation to this initiative starting at US$32.00 (A$ 43.00), which gets a small patrol of 5-9 soldiers pizza and soda. Donors can also order delicious falafels for our beloved IDF soldiers starting at US$75.00 (A$102.00).
PizzaIDF is a beautiful story of a patriotic Jew who led a grand effort with a heartwarming and personal act; one that all Israel supporters can rally behind.
Let's all make our way to the IDF Soldiers' hearts through their stomachs.