NCSY Bencher prayer booklet
NCSY Bencher prayer bookletIsrael news photo: courtesy of OU

Three hundred NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth) prayer booklets are on a special mission to Jewish troops serving in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

The little prayer booklets were sent in time for the Jewish High Holy Days by the Orthodox Union in response to a request by U.S. military chaplains. The booklets were sent via, an organization dedicated to sending kosher food and holiday gift baskets to the armed forces.

More than one and a half million copies of the NCSY Bencher, as the little prayer booklet is called, have been distributed since its first printing in 1985.

The booklet contains all the mealtime blessings, prayers and songs recited every day, on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays, as well as the blessings after a meal and a wide range of songs. It is also used at weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other celebrations.

Chaplain Shlomo Shulman wrote on behalf of the Jewish military personnel of Korea, “You don't want to know what we've been using... Now we can start singing zemiros (Sabbath songs) again on Friday nights at the chapel!”

The booklets were included in Rosh Hashana packages, according to Ava Hamburger of Monsey, New York, co-founder of Koshertroops with Sara Fuerst. The rest were sent in Sabbath packages to individual soldiers, she said, “with challah, grape juice, kiddush cup, candles and other goodies.”

David Olivstone, editor of the small, popular booklet, added that it was a “great privilege for us at the OU and NCSY to be able to help our troops celebrate Shabbat and Yom Tov, and to bolster their observance of Judaism in this way.”