75 Torah Scrolls Dedicated in Memory of Last Summer’s 75 War Victims

Italian IDF Soldier Private Meir Ben Dror Reads the Torah on a Judean Desert mountaintop. Photo: IDF Blog
Italian IDF Soldier Private Meir Ben Dror Reads the Torah on a Judean Desert mountaintop. Photo: IDF Blog

Each one of the 75 Israelis killed in Operation Protective Edge will have a Torah scroll written in their memory, thanks to a program called “A Bond for Eternity” or Kesher LaNetzah. These Torah scrolls will be donated to communities and military bases across Israel under the auspices of the LIBI Fund, the social welfare unit of the IDF.

The mission is to dedicate a Sefer Torah to all of the 67 IDF victims and five civilian victims of last summer’s war, as well as the three teenage boys kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in June 2014, so as to perpetuate their name.

To this end, Kesher Lanetzah has called on people from all around the world to join them in commissioning the 75 Torah scrolls which will be dedicated to perpetuating their memories.

During the program’s inaugural event back in 2014, a scribe wrote down the first letters of the first Torah scroll dedicated in the name of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, may his memory be blessed, who fell in combat during Operation Protective Edge. His body was abducted by Hamas terrorists inside one of the terror tunnels and has been held for ransom ever since.

The writing of a Torah scroll is one of the holiest and costliest commandments, as each letter needs to be carefully prepared by a professional scribe.The cost varies based upon on the clarity, beauty and consistency of the script as well as the weight of the parchment. Writing a Torah can costs upwards of $36,000 and takes about one year to complete.

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In the Jewish tradition, dedicating a Torah scroll is one of the most sacred ways of memorializing a person, family, or community. Recently such an undertaking was completed in honor of the terror victims in Paris, in which the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, took part himself.

The inauguration of a new Torah scroll is likened to a Jewish wedding, as it commemorates the ever-lasting relationship and unbreakable bond between God and the nation of Israel. Similarly, the celebration of the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) also commemorates this relationship and the first giving of the Torah from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

It is for this reason, among others, that Jews all over the world decorate their synagogues with plants and flowers on the holiday of Shavuot, much as a bridal canopy (Chuppah) is decorated with flowers.

The giving of the Torah is a central theme in Judaism, whether it is by teaching, learning, or especially dedicating a new scroll. These actions further the lasting relationship and strengthen the bond between God and His people.

The scrolls are destined to synagogues, both military and civilian, in Israel affiliated with communities and organizations that have expressed a need for them. Under the sponsorship of the LIBI Fund and American Friends of LIBI, Kesher Lanetzah is dedicating one scroll to each of the eight IDF brigades who were involved in Operation Protective Edge.

Kesher Lanetzah’s spiritual answer to the pain felt by the loss of these individuals ensures that their memories will not be forgotten. By dedicating these 75 news Torah scrolls, and thus strengthening the ever-lasting and eternal bond between God and his people, the memories of the fallen will also live on forever.

LIBI Lone Soldier Series: A Daughter Enlists with a Sign from Above

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Today, there are more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. A “lone soldier” is a soldier who has no family in Israel to support him or her. They range from new immigrants, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or an individual from a broken home.

Lone soldiers join all units of Israeli military. Most lone soldiers who enlist in the IDF are highly motivated to serve and protect Israel. Around 30 percent serve in combat units and about 20 percent serve in combat-support units.

LIBI USA, which works to support Israel’s defenders in all aspects of life, has launched a new initiative to ensure that those who volunteer to defend the Jewish state and leave home are supported.

Karin Meron, 19, grew up in Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of El Camino High School, Meron’s family is affiliated with the Jewish community of Chabad of West Hills. Currently serving in the Israeli Air Force, Meron spoke with LIBI and Breaking Israel News about her decision to leave her family and friends behind to become a defender of the State of Israel.

When did you begin to develop a connection to Israel?

 I was raised by two Israeli parents so it is always been a part of my life. It comes naturally to me. I have a lot of extended family in Israel and both my parents and majority of my family served in the IDF. That was a big influence on me and my decision.

When did you enlist in the IDF?

November 2014

Support over 6,000 lone soldiers in the IDF today!

Why did you decide to join the army?

I used to be in Tzofim – the Israeli Scouts in LA – from 3rd to 6th grade. Last year, after graduating high school, I took a gap year on Ardvark and spent a year volunteering and getting to know Israel and growing my love for her. This led to my decision to enlist.

How do your parents feels about you being a lone soldier?

My father passed away two years ago. He knew I was thinking about joining. He himself was in the Air Force and I was also placed in that unit, so I think in some ways it is a sign from above.

How often do you get to go back home and see your family? 

My mom came to visit in February but I haven’t seen my siblings since August.

IDF Lone Soldier Karin Meron (Photo: Courtesy)
IDF Lone Soldier Karin Meron (Photo: Courtesy)

What does being a lone soldier mean to you?

They call us lone soldiers but we are never really alone. There is so much support in this country as a lone soldier, it is heartwarming. I have had a lot of ups and down but overall I am so happy to be protecting my country.

Soldiers in the IDF must pay for much of their own gear. Is there anything your unit could benefit from?

As it gets closer to summer, we could really use camel-back water bottles.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to sponsor camel-back’s for Karin Meron’s unit, click here

Have you had a moment so far in your service that has been especially meaningful?

For Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we had a ceremony on my base where a survivor spoke and she was given a special award. It was that moment when the siren went off and I was standing in there in uniform, I just felt so proud.

 

 

LIBI Lone Soldier Series: A Daughter Puts Her “Life on the Line and on Hold”

 

(Photo: Courtesy)

Today, there are more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. A “lone soldier” is a soldier who has no family in Israel to support him or her. They range from new immigrants, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or an individual from a broken home.

Lone soldiers join all units of Israeli military. Most lone soldiers who enlist in the IDF are highly motivated to serve and protect Israel. Around 30 percent serve in combat units and about 20 percent serve in combat-support units.

LIBI USA, which works to support Israel’s defenders in all aspects of life, has launched a new initiative to ensure that those who volunteer to defend the Jewish state and leave home are supported.

Hadrielle Galfand, 20, grew up in Philadelphia, PA and is a graduate of Lower Merion High School. Gelfand is currently serving in the IDF Artillery Corp and spoke with LIBI and Breaking Israel News about her decision to leave her family and friends behind to become a defender of the State of Israel.

(Photo: Courtesy)
(Photo: Courtesy)

When did you begin to develop a connection to Israel?

I lived in Israel from the ages of 3 to 4 with my family while my father was studying at rabbinical school. When we came back to the US, I attended Jewish day school and had a terrific Zionist experience through my teachers and communities.

When did you enlist in the army?

November 2014

Why did you decide to join the IDF?

My year after high-school I took a gap year travel program that was based in Israel. Entering the program I hoped to make aliyah and join the IDF. I didn’t see myself living in Israel without serving in the army and I didn’t see myself serving in the army without being a citizen.

How do your parents feel about you being a lone soldier?

My parents know that it is not easy and are very supportive. They love to brag about me and what I am accomplishing

How often do you see your family?

My mom came in March for my swearing in ceremony and my father is coming in the summer.

Why do you feel your service in the IDF is important?

I think it is important, especially as a lone soldier, to earn the life I want to create here. I want to give back to the country that has given me so much, and the army has given me a way to do that.

Have you had a moment so far in your service that has been especially meaningful?

One moment was after finishing our overnight hike at the end of basic training. It is a 26 kilometer hike that we walk and hike overnight. We finished just as the sun was rising and was the perfect transition into my life as an IDF soldier.

Support over 6,000 lone soldiers in the IDF today!

Chaim and Kelly Galfand, parents of Hadrielle, shared with us their thoughts on having a lone soldier daughter in the IDF. 

How did you feel when your daughter told you that she would be joining the IDF?

Proud! And if anyone wonders why “worried” isn’t the first thing out of our mouths, it’s because the IDF will look out for her just as she’s helping to look out for the citizens of Israel. We feel parental pride that Hadrielle’s chosen a worthy goal and is pursuing it — and we feel added pride as we see her contributing so tangibly to the continued building of the Jewish state.

Natives and immigrants to Israel study, work, or volunteer in a variety of ways, and they’re all essential contributions to Israel’s future, yet there’s something powerful in Hadrielle making the statement that Israel’s something’s for which she’s willing to fight.

Hadrielle voting as an Israeli for the first time in the desert! “It was a powerful moment,” she said. (Photo: Courtesy)

With Israel under constant threat, how do you feel as parents knowing your child is putting her life on the line? 

Obviously we are very proud. We are not only proud that she cares about Israel to put her life on the line but also putting her life on hold. She is putting her life on hold for something she believes in that is bigger than just herself.

I don’t think we ever imagined any of our children first choosing to be a soldier and secondly choosing what country to fight for. We can only see our children serving in the IDF because they believe it is needed most here as the only democracy in the Middle East. Hadrielle is so passionate and strong on her beliefs in the existence of Israel, is it no surprise that she chose this path.

As her parents, what do you think Hadrielle’s biggest struggles have been serving as a lone soldier?

I think Hadrielle’s struggle is the same as many lone soldiers – always being on.  When she’s off base, she’s still working to master the language, get her bearings in new surroundings, maintain contact and communication with the tiny family we have in Israel (who have been amazing!) and create a real bond with her adoptive family, while also maintaining ties with her friends and family in America. Thankfully Hadrielle’s aunt and uncle have welcomed her into their family and provide an essential support without which this process would be profoundly more difficult.

I think most Israeli soldiers can really shut off the army and relax when they go off base because they have family and friends who have experienced the army first hand – they get it. Hadrielle is still defending her choice to friends and family back home who want to support her but still ask why Hadrielle chose something so difficult, demanding, and high stakes.

When I last visited for Hadrielle’s beret ceremony, I saw Israelis who also seemed baffled that she would chose something for which they are drafted.

Hadrielle with her mother at her beret ceremony. (Photo: Courtesy)
Hadrielle with her mother at her beret ceremony. (Photo: Courtesy)

What idea would you like to convey to people around the world about lone soldiers, and specifically about your daughter?

I think it has been shown since before Israel became a state that Israel needs lots of friends. Supporting the IDF is always needed from all around the world and it brings great comfort to know our daughter has that.

 Partner with LIBI and Hadrielle in order to support her mission as a female IDF soldier in the defense of Israel. Click here to show your support. 

 

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