Sayeret Handasa – Yahalom Special Operations and Engineering Unit
Family & Friends of Ruby Davidman
200th Sefer Torah Dedication
In loving memory of Ruby Davidman, z"l
Ten Years: Two Hundred Sifrei Torah
“Dear Friends… I extend to you our sincere appreciation for taking upon yourselves this most holy task in carrying out a campaign for the donation of needed Sifrei Torah for our soldiers serving in the IDF, especially for those serving on the frontlines in defense of our Nation and Land.”
Brigadier General Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, Chief Rabbi of the IDF , May 30, 2001 – 7 Sivan 5761
“A Sefer Torah belongs to all: even if one doesn’t know the words in it, he knows what it represents to the ancient Jewish Nation. The 200th Sefer Torah is an amazing achievement, something very special, and I am very proud and appreciative of what you have done on behalf of the Israeli army.”
Brigadier General Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Chief Rabbi of the IDF, September 8, 2011 – 9 Elul 5771
In 2001, Young Israel donated its first Sefer Torah to the Israel Defense Forces. Ten years later, on September 8, 2011, the Sirkin army base just outside Petach Tivka was the site of the 200th Hachnasat Sefer Torah to the IDF proudly sponsored by the Young Israel Movement. This Torah representing this dramatic milestone was donated to the SOEY, Special Operations and Engineering unit (Sayeret Yahalom), which was founded in 1948 along with the State of Israel. This unit is at the frontlines of many of the security hotspots, but for two hours on this special day, as many of their soldiers and officers who could be spared from active duty joined in to celebrate their personal Matan Torah, the day on which they received their very own Torah.
The Torah was handed from soldier to soldier and as each individual held it near, all their religious-ethnic-socio-economic differences simply disappeared. “Have you ever seen another nation that dances with their law book? We have soldiers from Morocco, Baghdad, America, Russia and elsewhere, and the Sefer Torah connects us together, to each other, to this land, to our history” (Rabbi Yitzchak Ben Yosef, Chief Rabbi of the Ground Forces in the IDF).
Every Sefer Torah given to the IDF is unique, but the 200th Sefer Torah was the first that was a survivor of World War II. As this Torah, which had been found in the ruins of the Holocaust in Romania, made its final journey into the base synagogue, Rabbi Ben Yosef stated: “If we understood the many journeys that this Torah has travelled to get here – how many people “used” it along the way, kissed it and carried it….” His words encompassed the past 100 years of Jewish history, from despair to repair, from destruction to reconstruction, from defeat to victory − for what could be more symbolic than a Torah that survived the Holocaust being carried into the frontlines by combat soldiers of the IDF?
This is the conviction that motivated Rabbi Pesach Lerner (NCYI Exec. Vice President) when approached 10 years ago by Lt. Col. (Res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas (Director Special Projects, IDF Chief Rabbinate) to help provide a Sefer Torah to a base in the Shomron for use during theYamim Nora’im. An idea was hatched: to initiate a project that would link Young Israel and its members with the IDF and its courageous soldiers. It was a program that would encompass the partnership between caring individuals and communities and the brave young men and women that defend the borders of Israel 24/7 – 365 days a year. As Rabbi Lerner recalled on this autumn day: “NCYI realized that the army needed a large supply of Torahs , so we got the shuls involved, thinking maybe we could get 50, dreaming of perhaps reaching 100 − and today we are donating number 200.” Added Rabbi Atlas: “Every Sefer Torah is used on at least a weekly basis, sometimes all three times per week, and on chagimand Rosh Chodesh.”
As the music of the IDF Rabbinate choir and band played on, and the soldiers and guests, members and friends of Young Israel in Israel, joyously sang and danced, there was one soldier with an exceptionally big smile. This was Sergeant Amit Davidman, a member of this SOEY unit, whose grandfather, Ruby Davidman, z”l, was a prime initiator of the project, in whose memory the program has now been renamed. The 200th Sefer Torah was dedicated in his memory by family and friends on the occasion of Mr. Davidman’s first yartzeit. Amit explained: “My grandfather exerted great efforts to enable many Hachnasat Sifrei Torah for the IDF, so that we soldiers could live our lives according to the Torah.” The event was attended by Ruby’s widow, Phyllis, his three children and his many grandchildren, one of whom has taken over the chairmanship of the project.
We were able to pull Shlomo Z. Mostofsky (President, NCYI) away from the celebration for a brief moment. He recalled “… an IDF general at the 100th Torah dedication speaking to the assembled soldiers and telling them that the ammunition he was wearing was not the true weapon that defended Israel and her soldiers, but rather the Torah that was ‘joining’ the army on that day represented the real weapon that protects the Jewish army in the Jewish land.” This is one of the main messages underscored by the Sefer Torah project: while flak jackets, helmets, and jeeps are essential, so are the spiritual weapons, for the Israeli military, the proud forces of the Jewish Nation defending its homeland, is not just another army. It is an army with a long history, an army marching to its destiny, an army that involves every Jew everywhere in the world.
Mr. Ceec Harrishburg (President, IYIM Israel), who presented gifts of thanks to Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas for their incredible efforts and achievements over the past decade, also thanked the soldiers without whom there would be neither celebration nor program. He recalled how soldiers on the Karmei Tzur base in Gush Etzion who received Sefer Torah #195 profusely thanked Young Israel and friends, saying: “Every Monday and Thursday we used to send a truck to other bases to find a Sefer Torah so that we could at least read from it at Mincha. Now we have our very own Sefer Torah – Thank You.”
Concluded Mr. Daniel Meyer (Exec. Director, IYIM-Israel): “We are so glad to have given 200 Sifrei Torah to the IDF. Thank you to all the kind shuls and individuals who contributed both the Torahs themselves and funds for their repair. Now we are looking forward to providing the army with the third hundred that they need!” To that extent IYIM-Israel has just received a Challenge Grant from the Leo V. Berger Fund, which under the leadership of its President, Mr. Harvey Schwartz, will donate one Sefer Torah for every two donated to the IDF by others.
Headquarters of the Binyamin Regional Brigade
Alex & Helen Gross
50th wedding anniversary
Sefer Torah #199: A golden Wedding Anniversary Celebration
When Helen & Alex Gross of Jerusalem were deciding how to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in a most significant manner they decided to donate a Sefer Torah to the IDF through the Young Israel Redeem a Sefer Torah for the IDF project.
On August 22nd 2011, three generations of the Gross family, together with over 100 invited friends made their way to the Hativa Binyamin base on the outskirts of Beit El. There they were greeted by a large crowd of soldiers from the base. The newly repaired Sefer Torah dressed in its new mantle was led under a chuppa amidst singing, dancing and accompaniment of the IDF band around the base to the synagogue.
In the synagogue there was lively singing and dancing for thirty minutes led by the IDF Rabbinate choir. The guests and soldiers joined in the dancing as one. The crowd was then addressed by Rabbi Sholom Gold, the army commander for the Shomron and Rabbi General Yitzchak Levy, the army Rabbi of Yehuda & Shomron. A presentation of gratitude was made to the Gross's who received a surprise when their extended family presented the base synagogue with a new parochet for the large Aron Hakodesh in their honor.
The family and invited guests then made their way to the base dining room where a festive celebratory meal with musical accompaniment was enjoyed by all. At this stage Rabbi Berel Wein spoke, followed by Alex Gross and then Helen Gross.
The Gross’s reiterated that they had decided that amongst all the many special things that they could have done to celebrate their special milestone, this was in fact the right choice as it was a thank you to the brave soldiers of the IDF that protect the Land and the citizens of Israel.
Rabbi Jay & Ruby Karzen & Friends
25th anniversary of making Aliyah