Many Teaneck shuls set aside a Shabbat close to the yearly Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorations to honor chayalim who are currently serving or in the past have served in the IDF. This year, Congregation Beth Aaron has designated Shabbat Parshat Tazria-Metzora, April 21, as Shabbat Chayal. As in prior years, Beth Aaron’s Shabbat Chayal will take place in memory of Teaneck native Ilan Tokayer, z”l, who served in the Kfir Division of the IDF as a lone soldier from 2005 to 2006, and was tragically taken from his family while studying to become an enologist at the University of California Davis in 2011.
Monies will be collected through sponsorships of different denominations to the weekly kiddush, from $200 and above for Rav Aluf, $100 to $199 for Aluf, $19 to $99 for Tat Aluf and $18 for Chayal. Congregation Beth Aaron will be donating 85 percent of funds collected to the Israel Defense Forces Widows and Orphans organization (IDFWO). The remaining 15 percent will fund summer camp programming of Beth Aaron’s sister city in Beit Yatir, Israel.
Beth Aaron’s kiddush co-chairs, Esther and Rinaldo Toporovsky, Nechama and Steven Pudell, Micah Kaufman and Mordechai Ungar, commented about the choice of this year’s tzedakah. “Although it seems impossible to fill the void of a lost parent or spouse, IDFWO works tirelessly to be a helping hand of warmth and love, to provide that backbone of support that a parent or spouse would provide. With the ever-increasing threats to the state of Israel, it has never been more crucial to act, to safeguard the women and children of Israel’s fallen heroes, as well as to arm Israel’s soldiers with the knowledge that should tragedy occur, their families will be embraced by the state of Israel and the Jewish diaspora.”
Established in 1991 as the sole charity recognized by the state of Israel to work with the more than 8000 widows and orphans of the fallen heroes of the IDF, IDFWO provides emotional support, financial aid, educational and social welfare programs and more.
Included among its programs, IDFWO provides a widow’s retreat that offers a safe haven for widows, who are able to bond with other women who have suffered similar loss and help them return to their children calm and able to resume their responsibilities.
The bar/bat mitzvah celebrations in Jerusalem provide a festive celebration at the Kotel for orphans of bar and bat mitzvah age. With the help of the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin; the defense minister; and chief of staff, the children are surrounded by love and care at this milestone in their lives.
In addition, IDFWO offers these youngsters a special bar/bat mitzvah trip to North America. They enjoy a fully subsidized three-week trip, providing them with indelible memories.
Finally, the university scholarships offered by IDFWO to orphans looking to embark upon the next stage of their academic lives help ease the financial burden of their families and help them achieve their dreams.
In addition to the kiddush on Shabbat Chayal, Beth Aaron has invited author and IDF widow Ziva Bakman-Flamhaft to address the congregation before mincha. Author of “War Widow: How the Six Day War Changed My Life,” Bakman-Flamhaft will share her life story, beginning as a young girl born in Tel Aviv, her childhood darkened by her mother’s mental illness, her growing up during times of conflict and war, her loss of two children and, later, losing her pilot husband after his plane was shot down during the Six Day War.
To learn about additional activities planned at Congregation Beth Aron in conjunction with Shabbat Chayal, please contact [email protected] Kiddush sponsorships can be made at ww.bethaaron.org\event\chayal18.
By Pearl Markovitz