By Herb Keinon - October 17, 2016 

Originally appeared here in The Jerusalem Post

Each year some 40,000 Israeli youngsters – about 85% of them fresh out of the IDF – get inoculated against exotic diseases, buy a pair of boots, strap a pack on their backs and head for the hills of South America, Africa and the Far East.

In 2013, Gili Cohen, now 29, was one of them.

Leaving the army after serving eight years in the elite Duvdevan unit, he deposited his year-and-a-half-old daughter with his mother-in-law and took his wife to Thailand for three weeks. The Beit Shemesh native had been abroad only once before – to Turkey.

What left a lasting impression on him in Thailand, however, was less the Crystal Creek Waterfall in the northern city of Chiang Mai, or the Mekong River along the border with Laos, or the beaches of Koh Samui in the south, but that on one regular July Friday night in Koh Samui, some 1,350 Israelis were clamoring to take part in a kiddush at the local Chabad house. Read More