August 03, 2006
I do not open this letter to you with the standard Jewish greeting, because it is Tisha B’Av. Normally, of course, I would not be writing any emails on such a day, but since we are in a Milchemet Mitzvah and we have many thousands of our soldiers fighting in the field – in Lebanon, in Gaza and throughout Judea and Samaria who are Halachically forbidden to fast in combat circumstances, the least I can do, while I do fast, is to not waste time in supplying the vital religious logistic support they so desperately require – yesterday!
Included are a few pictures of our visit to the “boys” on the Lebanese front earlier this week to strengthen their ruach (spirit) and raise their morale. Thanks to a number of friends from abroad, I was able to purchase 1,500 gift packages ($8,000) to help put a smile on their faces. The IDF Rabbinate supplied the pocket Sifrei Tehillim (3,000, and another 2,000 next week). Obviously, since we are combat officers, we were able to go where civilians cannot, and reached the soldiers in forward positions.
One item of vital need that is particularly lacking is olive green Tzitzit for combat troops (a necessity because of camouflage – combat troops are forbidden to wear any white clothing, e.g. Tee-shirts, Tzitzit etc. that may show their position to the enemy in the field). At the behest of the IDF Rabbinate, which is encumbered by Defense Ministry bureaucracy, and cannot buy anything from one day to the next assuming they have the budget availability (which they don’t), I just bought 3,200 such pairs of olive green Tzitzit at a cost of $10,000, for immediate supply up for the combat soldiers in Lebanon and Gaza. Together with my fellow officers from Judea/Samaria Division rabbinate and Central Command (two of the divisions called up north emanate from Central Command), I am personally bringing the Tzitizit up north next week with more gift packages.
In addition to the above, I am still budgeting $27,000 for Succot (both replacement parts for existing damaged Succot, and new ones for the combat areas with three reserve divisions called up thus far), $12,000 for more gift packages for the soldiers on the various fronts, and $36,000 for financial assistance for food and clothing to needy soldiers and their families for the Chagim period.
I urge all to join the OU/IDF Prayer Cards program to help support these initiatives, as well as any other donations that can be made.
As it should be, all of these activities are IDF Rabbinate programs coordinated with HaAguda Lema’an HaChayal in accordance with proper procedure.
Meanwhile, Tzom Kal.
Major (res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas
IDF Rabbinate Liaison Officer to the Diaspora