April 23, 2024
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Koren Publishers Jerusalem Launches Campaign To Deliver Religious Books to Soldiers

Two soldiers holding Koren books.

It’s Friday night, Oct. 13, six days after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel and massacred over 1,000 innocent men, women, children and babies. A group of Israeli soldiers stationed on the southern border with Gaza return from an operation, long after the sun has set and Shabbat has entered. They find a newly delivered cardboard box filled with siddurim and with much excitement, recite the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers together before heading to sleep.

During the first three weeks of the war, over 20,000 siddurim, chumashim and books of Tehillim have been delivered to soldiers stationed around the country by Koren Publishers Jerusalem. The crowdfunding campaign, called “Siddurim for Tzahal,” was launched in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Koren development manager Aryeh Grossman, who oversees this project, explained that the goal of this initiative is “to spiritually arm” those who are at the front lines of Israel’s defense. Many reservists hastily jumped into a car on Oct. 7 and only took a few possessions and provisions to last for a few days, not knowing how long the fighting would last.

One soldier who is serving in the Upper Galilee said that the book he received is “a donation for our soul that is no less important than our bodies.” Another soldier serving near the Lebanese border shared that he was using his cell phone to recite prayers, which used up a lot of phone charge. With the arrival of the siddurim, he could spend more time talking to family members without worrying about conserving his phone battery.

A soldier studying from a Koren chumash.

Koren also produced a special lightweight chumash with Onkelos and Rashi, so that soldiers can keep up with the tradition of reading the weekly portion along with one commentary. The chumash includes a dedication to soldiers in the name of Koren Publishers that begins with some words of motivation: “Remind yourself at all times that you are doing holy work.” Koren has raised $60,000 from over 300 donors around the world toward this initiative.

Some 25% of Koren’s staff has been deployed to reserves, which means that this campaign has been a grassroots effort that has relied heavily on volunteer support to physically transfer boxes of books from Jerusalem to units stationed around the country. “Every person I spoke with whom I never met before, they were all so appreciative and uplifted by what we were doing,” said Grossman. “We felt that we were bringing them chizuk, but they were giving us so much chizuk back with their commitment to tefillah and learning Torah.”

Koren Publishers Jerusalem is committed to making Hebrew texts and teachings from the land of Israel accessible to an expanding audience. Every Koren siddur includes the prayers for the state of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces and its Birkon contains the harachaman for the state of Israel and the military. Many soldiers and presidents of Israel are sworn in on a Koren Tanach. “We are already part of the fabric of state institutions and the State of Israel. This is kind of a natural thing,” Grossman added.

For more information visit korenpub.com/blogs/blog/siddurim-for-tzahal


Alisa Bodner is a Fair Lawn native who immigrated to Israel a decade ago. She is a nonprofit management professional who enjoys writing in her free time.

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