Tziri Preis, host of “The Incredible Kids Podcast,” spoke to Israel National News – Arutz Sheva about her new initiative in the wake of the October 7 tragedy in southern Israel.
Tziri explained her initiative: “It's a known thing that kids have tremendous power, and their prayers and tefillot (prayers) cannot be underestimated. The minute all this horrible news started coming in from Israel, I personally felt very strongly that it was easy to forget about the kids. One, we need the kids, we need their prayers because they're innocent, and they're just so pure, and their prayers can reach levels that none of ours can. Second, they are also scared. Kids get scared when they hear the news, and we have to be real with our kids. We need to tell them people are suffering.”
Tziri continues: “So the day after October 7th was Isru Chag, Simchat Torah, and after that, I immediately arranged a Zoom, using my platform of Incredible Kids, with kids in Israel who can come on and talk to the kids in America, without scaring them too much, but talking about what it's like to hear sirens, schools are closed, their parents might be in the army, their relatives and their neighbors. This way, the kids here could relate to this and see that it is real. We all said Tehillim together. It was so beautiful that I was inspired to do this regularly. I said, ‘You know what, if people in Israel are showing up for this regularly and never go on vacation, just like a soldier who can never stop his service for anything, we need to make our lives more regularly invested in what's going on in Israel.’
Tziri said, “You know what, whoever comes, comes. 6 p.m. Every single night, Sunday to Thursday, we are going to stop our routines and get the kids together. Originally, I planned for 10 minutes now it has turned into more than 25 minutes, but nobody seems to have anywhere to go. It is the most inspiring and beautiful thing. We always have a special guest on, like a big Jewish singer, like Avraham Fried or Ohad Moskowitz, or a great Rabbi, like Rabbi Eitan Finer or Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, and they come on, and they talk directly to the kids, and they empower them, and the Tehillim that's said afterward is led by one of the children, and it is the most inspiring and beautiful thing and I know this because of the not-normal feedback I get from their families.”
Regarding the parents, Tziri continues, “The parents are saying that their children are feeling so connected to the words of David Hamelech that they are opening up their Tehillim and saying the words even when it's not the given time when it's not 6: p.m. They're sitting afterward, and they're continuing to say more chapters on their own. On Shabbat, they're sitting down together with friends, and I'm talking about like six-year-olds and 10-year-olds, and these prayers are direct, as some of our rabbis here have said that these stories are literally lifesaving. They are directly helping the soldiers. I also pre-recorded some videos with soldiers and showed them to the kids. We called it the ‘Tehillim Army,’ and the soldiers were saying that they had heard about the Tehillim Army, what you're doing is so inspiring it makes us want to fight harder. One soldier picked up his gun and showed the kids. He said, ‘You kids are in the Tehillim Army; this is my gun.’ It was very visual for them because we don't usually talk to kids about guns. But, this is the reality, you know. Then he said to the kids, ‘Your gun is your Tehillim. That's your weapon, and never forget that. I have my place; you have your place. These kids log on to our Zoom and on a live stream because we are completely maxed out of the Zoom limit. We have more than a thousand families every single night consistently. Many come on even if they’re on vacation. I see kids in their hotel rooms; someone sent me a picture from Great Wolf Lodge; they stopped their day at the water park to join. Kids told me that they went to Hershey Park on a Sunday, and they left the park early to make it in time for the Tehillim. I have people coming on from family weddings. Yesterday, a family stopped at their birthday party and sent me a picture of all of the boys at the birthday party and the girls sitting around the table, stopping to say Tehilim. This is insane; this is amazing.”
Looking at the entire Tehillim project, Tziri feels that it's hard to pick one message because “ever since that day, my heart is not the same. Personally, I can't speak for everyone, but for myself, I can't go through a day without thinking of what your reality is and what you're doing for Am Yisrael, your dedication, whether it's family members directly involved or you helping your communities. Personally, there's no place I would rather be than in Israel right now, but logistically, it's hard to get there with my family and everyone. And we're settled in America, but we don't feel settled in America, we want to be with you in Israel. We applaud you for what you're doing because, without your services, your dedication, and your real sacrifice, it's like you're no stranger to sacrifice. We are strangers to sacrifice in America. I hate to say it, but we don't understand, and I want the next generation of kids here to know what real sacrifice is.”
Tziri adds, “We also equate Torah learning. Torah learning is super important and powerful, but what I tell the kids also is the soldiers’ level of dedication and how they stop their lives; we need to stop our lives and do this here to show them that we really do care. We really do feel like we are partners with you, and we respect you so much, and so we need to go full force into whatever we're doing. Our prayers, our davening, our learning, our tzedakah [charity], we need to go full force so that you feel that power. You're going to feel it because we, as a nation here, are strengthening our observance of mitzvot. Kids are taking upon themselves mitzvot.”
On the new initiative that Tziri started, she says, “I also started an initiative in America to collect letters for soldiers. The day after the tragedy, I already started collecting letters. I sent about 2,000 letters to Israel from kids around the world, and I read some of those letters. One of them was so beautiful. It said, ‘In school, I'm saying the words of the alef-bet [Hebrew alphabet] for you.’ That's a little five-year-old. When they're doing alef-bet in school with their teacher, she says, ‘Soldiers, I want you to know I'm thinking of you.’ Another nine-year-old kid from Lakewood, New Jersey, wrote, ‘I stopped eating one of my favorite foods, so I could always remember what you're going through.’ Can you imagine? This is Am Yisrael!