All “Lone Soldiers” – Israel Defense Forces soldiers with no immediate family in Israel – were invited to gather at Israel’s largest waterpark, just outside of Tel Aviv, for a day of rest and recuperation on Wednesday, June 27. The “Fun Day” brought out some 5,000 Lone Soldiers.

There are some 7,000 Lone Soldiers from 80 countries serving in the IDF today. About 925 came from the United States, 639 from Ukraine, 559 from Russia, and 545 from France. Sixty-seven percent of Lone Soldiers are men, while 33 percent are women. Some 59 percent of Lone Soldiers serve in combat or combat-support roles.

The FIDF “Fun Day” at the Shefayim Water Park benefited Lone Soldiers from all IDF units. In addition to the park’s many attractions, the “Fun Day” featured a pool party with leading Israeli DJ Eran Barnea, game and fitness areas, an all-day smorgasbord of barbeque and desserts, and a special performance by popular Israeli band Hatikva 6. The Lone Soldiers received essential information about life after their military service, including about the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program, which grants college scholarships to Israeli combat veterans of modest means.

The Fun Day kicked off the second annual IDF Appreciation Week, June 27-July 8, which will touched than 50,000 soldiers. During the week-long series of events, FIDF hosted an additional “Fun Day,” June 28, for some 5,000 front-line IDF combat soldiers, and sent four ice cream trucks to visit more than 24,000 soldiers on IDF combat bases across the country.

In addition to the Lone Soldiers, IDF unit commanders, non-commissioned officers, high-ranking military officials, and FIDF supporters also attended the “Fun Day” festivities to meet and personally thank these brave men and women in uniform for serving despite numerous challenges.