In response to requests from Army commanders and rabbis in the field, the Orthodox Union today called on its synagogue network across North America to arm Israeli soldiers in Gaza with “spiritual ammunition” by conducting immediate fundraising campaigns to provide them with tefillin (phylacteries), tzitzit (fringed garments) and tehillim (books of Psalms).
“The IDF arms the soldiers with their military weaponry. The OU’s mission is to arm them with spiritual ammunition as they put their lives at risk,” declared OU Executive Vice President, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb.
Contributions may be sent to www.ou.org/soldiers or by calling 212-613-8125.
“Requests for religious items keep pouring in every day,” explained Rabbi Avi Berman, Director of Jerusalem-based OU Israel. “What are you going to tell a soldier on the battlefield – knowing he is about to confront a vicious enemy – when he asks to connect to God with tefillin, tzitzit and tehillim?
Rabbi Berman has arranged with providers in Israel to sell these items to the OU at cost.
“We are all concerned about the war in Gaza and our anxiety and grief over the lost and wounded soldiers interferes with our ability to go about our daily tasks,” emphasized Rabbi Weinreb. “At the Orthodox Union, and particularly at our OU Israel Center, we are directly affected and intensely involved in responses to the crisis.”
Just as the OU did two years ago during the war in the North, it is calling on its communities to come to the aid of Israelis in distress.
Besides the campaign for the soldiers, funds raised will also help Makom Balev (NCSY in Israel) provide an essential lifeline of hope to teens cooped up in communal bomb shelters day after day throughout the south of Israel. According to Rabbi Berman, “There will be regular visits from program advisors, encouraging and inspiring the teens and affecting their hearts forever.”
In addition, the OU website, www.ou.org, is also a major resource for keeping up with the situation, featuring essays, prayers, actions and resources; the names and conditions of wounded soldiers; the names of deceased soldiers; and details of a way to connect personally with soldiers in a program advocated by Rav Simcha Kook of Rehovot and the Bostoner Rebbe.
For further information, contact Rabbi Bini Maryles, Director of the Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services, at email@example.com, 212-613-8226.