June 15, 2024
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Migdal Ohr’s ‘Magen Israel’ Relief Effort and Rabbi Grossman Are a Force for Good

(Courtesy of Migdal Ohr) Migdal Ohr, one of Israel’s most impactful social welfare organizations, is leading its largest humanitarian relief effort yet, called Magen Israel, under the leadership of its founder, the tzadik and Israel Prize Laureate Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman.

Now, in the difficult and uncertain days of the war, Migdal Ohr has been providing ongoing aid for thousands of displaced parents and children, visiting and blessing hundreds of wounded victims and soldiers, inspiring army units, and of course, caring for the 10,000 orphaned and underprivileged children who are a part of the Migdal Ohr family.

In times of national crises, Grossman and Migdal Ohr have consistently played an active role in supporting Israel, collaborating with government bodies to deliver immediate relief. When the COVID pandemic struck, Grossman was called upon by the Israeli government to lead a significant packaging relief effort. Similarly, during the Second Lebanon War, Migdal Ohr opened its campus doors to host hundreds of soldiers. The commitment to providing assistance remains unwavering during these ongoing times of war in Israel.

With the outbreak of the war with Gaza, the organization mobilized donors all over the world in a massive campaign to provide shelter to over 4,000 evacuees from the Gaza border and to help the families most affected by the massacres in the south of Israel. The Magen Israel initiative continues to quickly expand, responding to immediate needs that are emerging on the front lines and in Israel’s hospitals.

As a unifying and beloved national figure, Grossman has always taken the approach that Israel is one family with one heart and has always been willing to do anything necessary to help Israel with the resources at his disposal. As such, Magen Israel has hosted over 1,000 soldiers on Migdal Ohr’s campuses, cooked over 2,000 meals a day out of Migdal Ohr’s soup kitchens, and sent thousands of supplies to soldiers on the front lines, among many other activities.

Rabbi Grossman has personally visited dozens of army and air force bases, blessing the soldiers with coins to give to tzedaka upon their safe return from war. His regular visits to Israel’s hospitals provide strength to the wounded and instill hope in their families. Miraculous stories are emerging from Gaza, a testament to the profound impact of Grossman’s outreach. The rav has been seen on national television multiple times, offering interviews that fortify the nation’s unity and resolve. Following each of these appearances, he returns to Migdal HaEmek in the north of Israel to be among his beloved children. There, surrounded by thousands of orphaned and underprivileged kids, he imparts his values and actively builds his visionary future for Israel.

For over five decades, Rabbi Grossman and global supporters have devoted themselves to nurturing orphaned and at-risk youth, transforming them into productive, inspired citizens of Israel. Today, tens of thousands of alumni lead institutions, serve in the army, run companies, and raise families, showcasing the profound impact of Migdal Ohr’s work.

These alumni form a resilient shield in Israeli society, embodying dedication, selflessness and a Zionistic spirit. Like Grossman, they are unwavering in their commitment to do anything and everything for Am Yisrael.

One standout example is alumnus Shai Knopfer, who, on Oct. 7, dropped everything to enlist in the reserves. Tasked with identifying bodies in Be’eri and ruling out hostage scenarios, Knopfer leveraged his networks to raise $7 million for gear, aiding evacuated families and treating the wounded. Alongside friends, he organized large-scale barbecues and even orchestrated a wedding for a soldier within hours.

Knopfer reflected, “Rabbi Grossman has been like a father to me since I was 16. When I met him, I was lost in life, caught up in crime and drugs. That wasn’t me, but I didn’t know how to find my way back. I came to Zoharim Youth Village when it was just a dream. ‘There’s nothing here!’ I said. ‘So,’ the rav replied, ‘You and your friends will be the ones to build it. If Hashem sent you now, then surely that is your purpose.’”

This ethos pervades Grossman’s approach — where there’s a need, build it; where there’s no leader, lead.

The rav encouraged Shai to marry, officiated his wedding, and inspired the names of his sons. Alumni share a common thread of love for the rav and a drive to reveal the goodness he sees in them.

Observing Grossman’s impact — whether at army bases, hospitals, with evacuated families, or at home in Migdal HaEmek — inspired Knopfer to question, “What excuse do any of us have not to do MORE for Am Yisrael?”

The achievements of fellow alumni, whether in leadership positions, the army or community leadership, showcase the pervasive spirit and drive to help instilled by the rav in each and every one of them.

In the U.S,. the Magen Israel campaign has seen an incredible outpouring of support from synagogues, schools, restaurants and local businesses, all raising funds and sending donations to Israel.

During Chanukah, 14 partner schools and communities united with American Friends of Migdal Ohr (AFMO) to raise funds for gifts and celebrations benefiting children from evacuated families. Notable participants included Yeshivat He’Atid, The Frisch School, SAR, Yavneh Academy, Yeshivat Noam, Ben Porat Yosef, NCSY and others, each contributing to bring light to Israel’s children and support the Israeli economy..

The rav has been profoundly touched by the unwavering dedication and support emanating from Jewish communities across America and the world. The collective impact of each individual’s personal care, and the solidarity of the community at large, has been truly inspirational. In a remarkable display of compassion, members of the community have demonstrated robust support, both in giving, ruach and physical presence, offering a comforting embrace during this challenging time for Am Yisrael.

“We are all driven to act, and the Jewish people have been an inspiration as a force for good,” shared AFMO’s Executive Director Atara Solow. “With needs on the ground that are so vital, the feeling and spirit of Am Yisrael together not only supports but strengthens our resolve.” Among other initiatives, Solow was blessed to take part in missions with members of Yeshivah of Flatbush High School, the Manhattan Jewish Center, and Keter Torah and Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, and others. Each mission is dedicated to offering strength and support to those in need across Israel since Oct. 7 and to supporting the children of Israel and Migdal Ohr during this challenging time. Groups have renovated bomb shelters, provided critical goods and uplifted the morale of the nation.

“As an Israeli living in the Diaspora and far from home,” said Solow, “it has been extremely comforting and inspiring to see the love and unity of the Jewish people. We truly are one nation. When we are hurting in Israel, the Jewish community abroad is with us, feeling the pain and doing everything in their power to send support and assistance. I cannot tell you how proud and humbled I have been to be involved in Migdal Ohr’s Magen Israel war relief efforts. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to get involved. Our communities in particular have been a tremendous part of the Magen Relief effort and Rabbi Grossman wants to extend his deepest appreciation and thanks from Israel.”

To learn more about Magen Israel and how to get involved visit migdalohrusa.org/israel.

In March, American Friends of Migdal Ohr’s Online Auction for Israel wil go live for bidding.! The organization is asking the community to donate goods and services items to benefit Magen Israel. Reach out to hear more about the auction and donate items at: [email protected]

To learn more, visit migdalohrusa.org.

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