Although generally thought of as an American organization, the Young Israel movement has been very involved in Israeli life for decades – and last week, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and the Israel branch of the International Young Israel Movement dedicated, for the 190th time, a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) to the IDF.
The groups have been raising funds for the Torah scrolls and donating them to the army for the past 12 years, in a project that was initiated by NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate. The project is named for Ruby Davidman, a longtime activist for Israel who made aliyah over 30 years ago and was very involved in providing for the spiritual needs of IDF soldiers (www.redeematorah.org).
The donated scrolls are brought to Israel from synagogues throughout the world. They are in a worn or damaged state and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in honor of, or in memory of loved ones or on special occasions. Upon their arrival in Israel, the scrolls are placed in different army bases according to the needs of the IDF. Recently Young Israel gained the rights to Sifrei Torah from Romania that survived the Holocaust, and just need donors in order for them to be redeemed and given to the I.D.F.
The latest dedication took place last Tuesday, April 5th – on Rosh Chodesh Nisan – and the Torah was rededicated by communal activists Rabbi Jay and Ruby Karzen of Jerusalem and their kind friends, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of their Aliyah to Israel. During a very meaningful ceremony that included joyous singing and dancing in a rain downpour with the I.D.F. band playing, a festive meal,, the scroll was placed in the ark of the synagogue located in the IDF’ base outside Alon Shvut, in Gush Etzion.
“The National Council of Young Israel is proud to be the conduit for so many Young Israel and non Young Israel synagogues in the USA amd Canada to send our IDF soldiers a Torah scroll for their daily and Shabbat needs,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “These soldiers put their lives on the line every day to protect their people and land, this is the very least we can do. It is indeed an honor.”
Daniel M. Meyer, Executive-Director of IYIM –Israel added: “To see the smiles on the faces of our brave chayalim said it all. The Karzens are outstanding communal leaders and once again have led by example. Everyone who participated received so much. This is a very significant contribution we can make to the I.D.F. We invite everyone to partake in this unique project.”