April 20, 2024
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Local Residents Take Initiative to Help Israel

Fair Lawn—Oper­ation Protective Edge and the upheaval in Is­rael have left many peo­ple wondering what they can do to help, particu­larly those who live thousands of miles away. Community members of all ages in Bergen County have come up with their own unique initiatives to help Israel, whether by raising money for families affected by events or to help soldiers fighting in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Ora Friedman, a Fair Lawn resident who goes to Ma’ayanot High School, spearheaded a bake sale that was held in late July. The funds from the sale, held at Congregation Shom­rei Torah, will support OneFamily Fund, an or­ganization that gives support to Israeli victims of terrorism. “I want teenagers to be able to do something, to get involved and help give back to Israel,” Friedman said. Over 20 bakers volun­teered to bake for the sale, offering delicacies ranging from mousse pies to chocolate chip muffins. Zadie’s Bakery and Ma’adan Caterers also made donations.

Friedman’s bake sale followed on the heels of another bake sale, held in Teaneck, which raised thousands of dollars. Tzipporah Wallach, who ran that sale, said that some of the keys to her success were effective advertising and ac­tivities for kids to do for the soldiers at her sale. The event supported the American Friends of the IDF Rabbinate, which purchased com­bat boots, tzitzit, combat siddurim, and other items for those at war.

L’via Weisinger of Teaneck had been planning to run a ga­rage sale anyway, but decided to use the funds to support Israel in light of the war. Despite being cut short by rain, the sale raised over $200. The sale’s proceeds went to support the Lone Soldier fund, a cause her family has a very per­sonal connection to. “My son Yoni is a lone soldier,” she said. “He joined the IDF in March and is in a tank division…My older son Zevi is spending the summer in Isra­el interning and volunteering at the Lone Soldier center. The cent­er has been an invaluable source of information and support for us parents abroad.”

Others looked to more un­conventional ways of supporting Israel through digital methods. Heather Benjamin saw commer­cials on television for a website called Booster, which features a tool for designing and selling T-shirts to raise money. She creat­ed a Tzahal-inspired shirt with the intention of selling 50; if the site sells enough, it will send out the T-shirts and then send her the mon­ey to give to the IDF.

“My son was there this summer on Naaleh,” she said, referring to an Israel summer program run by Camp Mesorah. “I couldn’t be there, but I wanted to do something.” (Visit booster.com/ chayalim to order one.)

In addition, Congregation B’nai Yeshurun ran a campaign entitled the Tzahal Project. Over $32,000 was raised by the communi­ty, and the money went towards purchasing thousands of pairs of camouflage tzitzit and special siddurim designed for soldiers in com­bat, as well as care packages and tefillin. One of the soldiers who received tzitzit survived a mortar shell explosion the very next day. “He should have been in the next world. He was only wounded lightly by shrapnel in his leg. He credits the mitzvah of tzitzit with saving him… Miracle, for sure,” said Doron Katz, who helped run the fundraiser. A sister campaign, headed by Jason Goldstein, was run at the Beis Midrash of Bergenfield.

Rabbi Ari Zahtz, assistant rabbi at B’nai Yeshurun, traveled with Engle­wood’s Ahavath Torah Mission to Israel in order to make a difference. The idea was “to provide things we can’t do from a distance,” Rabbi Zahtz said. Traveling around the land, they used funds to sup­port different places in need directly, such as sponsoring a pizza meal for 230 soldiers at a pizza store and an ice cream party for children in Sderot. As differ­ent needs from different groups came up along the way, the group helped provide for them. Rabbi Zahtz said the best thing they managed to accomplish was to fund a “Torah duffel,” a case for the Israeli sol­diers to be able to carry and use a Torah while in Gaza. Thus, they could “have the Torah with them wherever they are.”

A portable, protective Aron Kodesh for the troops.

By Oren Oppenheim

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