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Today is Monday, April 21, 2014


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In conjunction with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama for the first time, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) is urging its 25,000 member families and Jews throughout the United States to express support for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the State of Israel.


The NCYI is launching a campaign which encourages people to call and e-mail the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. and express four fundamental points:


1.  I support the State of Israel.

2.  I oppose the division of Jerusalem.

3.  I oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state within Israel’s borders.

4.  I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to stay strong and I support his efforts to guarantee the security of the State of Israel.


The Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. can be reached at 202-364-5500, or by e-mail at


“With U.S. policy towards Israel seemingly shifting away from what had been the status quo, it is imperative that Israeli leaders stay firm in their resolve and recognize that they have the support of the American Jewish community,” said NCYI President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, Esq.  “With the future of the Jewish homeland hanging in the balance, it is critical that we make our voices and opinions heard so that the State of Israel is protected in perpetuity.”


Panim El Panim - Letters to Israeli Soldiers

During the third week of Operation Cast Lead we went to the Golani brigade operations room that was closest to the front lines, in order to deliver the first few hundred amazing letters we received from all over the world and from people of all ages. The officers and soldiers were very touched and gladdened by the outpouring of warmth, support and solidarity from Diaspora Jewry.

Many of the soldiers told us they felt our unity as a Jewish people more strongly than ever before, and that knowing you were thinking about them and praying for their safety reinforced their faith and their fighting spirit. They truly felt they were on a mission for the whole Jewish people.

Attached are a few photos taken while we were handing out the letters (The quality of the photos is not very good because the soldiers’ encampment was in total darkness for security reasons).



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Orthodox IDF soldier: How I Survived Gaza 



By Joshua Eastman


Eleven days ago today, Israel terminated an operation after having reached a state of cease-fire with a cowardly and murderous foe. We pulled out of Gaza. I pulled out of Gaza.


We were first called up on a Shabbat, right at the end of ten months of regular training and an extra two months of specialized training with the whole brigade in the Golan Heights. We were told that Israel was preparing for a possible conflict with Gaza. We were allowed to stay in phone contact at the beginning, and we listened for news from our families, always better informed than the army. We heard the bombs falling near the Strip, and readied our gear. And we waited. And waited. Every day another rumor came in.


“We’re going today”


“We’re going today”


We waited a week.


We were sent the following Shabbat.


The first time we came back out, after twenty four hours, our unit was under the impression that all the other units would be coming out as well. A little R & R, and then back in. But only our soldiers arrived at the base. The others were in till the very end.


The next two weeks we were deployed over and over again into neighborhoods whose names are ingrained as if from childhood memory, and we were told to ready ourselves for the final operational steps the army was preparing.


Thank God, for us, those steps never came. After fighting through less densely packed urban neighborhoods and villages, as an army, we never had to enter the tightly packed urban nightmares of the inner cities.


        “The world is already trying to fault Israel, telling everyone that civilians died, and Israelis murdered. But I was there. I saw the twelve year olds with missiles and RPGs strapped to their backs. We watched in anger as our bombs, so as not to fall on large civilian centers, fell on our own troops.”


A cease-fire was signed, and we pulled out with hatches open on our vehicles, waving flags and flashing the peace symbol even though no one was there to photograph it. After all, we were one of hundreds of squads returning. There was no way to record every tank and APC that came home. But it was cathartic, and made it official.


I saw many things. I heard things. While I was in Gaza.


I saw soldiers who were virulently anti-religious don tzitit under their bullet-proof armor. As one soldier said, “Why do I put it on now, if I never wore it before? When do you ask your father for help? When you need it.”


I saw heroes. Boys just out of high-school, young men who should have been playing sports or starting families or going to college, loading weapons and placing armor on their fragile frames, securing helmets, and checking gear.


They suppressed the fear that lurked at the edges of their minds, and as a unit swept across the fence and planted unwavering lines of boots in the soil of Gaza. I watched them fight like grown men against evil.


The first night we went in, we were unable to wear bullet-proof armor in my unit, and had to settle for flak vests (we couldn’t wear armor when we first went in because, due to the weight we were carrying, it would have hampered our movements, creating a safety hazard). My young commander, who had an easy load to carry that wouldn’t interfere with his vest, still left without bulletproof armor. “If my men don’t, I don’t”. I told him the next day, I would have followed him through the entire Arab world if need be, my respect for him was so great. I saw my brave wife, Chana, who came down to volunteer, just to be close to me, braving rockets and missiles, and watched her help soldiers by handing out desperately needed winter gear and food. I watched Chabadniks who came to us every day and inspired the soldiers with song and mitzvot. I saw heroes praying for our safety, and feeding us, and caring for us.


I saw pain. Just today, I ran into yet another friend from another unit, who tells me, when asked how he is, “I am fine from the neck down.” Sixteen of his friends were injured in a blast on the first night. He lost many more before the end. He is still sweet, still charming, but his laugh is more weary, and his eyes are sadder. Another friend in a different unit lost two-thirds of his whole platoon when a bomb destroyed their house. He says he walked in, and he saw limbs moving or laying still, and bodies unattached to them, hurting, dead. He still hasn’t pulled back completely. A former commander of mine died, and a friend lost his arm and use of his legs, and is still in a coma.


I saw lies. The world is already trying to fault Israel, telling everyone that civilians died, and Israelis murdered. But I was there. My feet were on the ground and I saw the truth. I saw that warnings were given, I saw the enemy that fought us. I saw the twelve year olds with missiles and RPGs strapped to their backs. I saw that it was with sadness and great anger Israeli troops recognized the need to fire on people who crossed the red line, the danger zone which meant they saw us, and knew where we were. Old people mined with bombs, children armed with detonators, tunnels that opened in the ground to swallow our soldiers. I watched my commanders passing out all of our food to the children who were taken prisoner. I received the commands “closed to fire on the right” if our intelligence had reported civilians in the area. I watched us, more often then not, taking cover when supposed civilian positions fired on us from “the right”. Yet the world thinks it can bend the truth. We were not allowed to fire on schools. We were told not to loot. We watched in anger as our bombs, so as not to fall on large civilian centers, fell on our own troops, so that we could tell the world we were attempting to scare the enemy while limiting civilian losses.


Yet they won’t say that in the press.


You are the reason we returned. You are the reason I am alive.


I saw cowardice. We listened with concern when Hamas threatened to use snipers and bombs on us, to fight us every step of the way with their fifteen thousand man army, and we watched videos of full brigades parading, waving their weapons and threatening Israel. But as we invaded, they fled.


They would attack in small groups, hit us with missiles and sniper fire, and then flee. The ‘warriors’ of Hamas were brave when their rockets fell unanswered on the schools of children and the homes of elderly, but they did not stand when the enemy called them up to answer for their crimes.


I saw miracles. Rockets that blazed past our houses, bullets that scarred the outside of windows we were watching from. A unit near ours that was walking in to Gaza had RPGs pass straight between their ranks without hitting a single soldier. Mines that didn’t explode, mortar rounds that landed next to friends that didn’t explode. RPGs that blazed into the earthen barrier directly in front of our APC, detonating before penetration.


The night walk through a neighborhood that wasn’t on the map, that was full of snipers and mines according to reports, that we walked through unawares, by accident, without harm or incident. And that was just what we knew.


I felt fear. Every time I entered, every time I squeezed the trigger, every time a missile landed nearby, I was struck with fear. It is a deep fear, hard to explain. Your body shivers as if you are frozen to the core. You find yourself staring at the ground, trying to adjust to the ringing in your ears. You freeze, and unless someone slaps you, or you manage to shake yourself, your eyes stay downcast, and you lay numb on the earth, waiting without realizing. Eventually, your training pulls you out and forces you to stay alert, your gun snaps up, and adrenaline masks the fear and hurt. You roll on seemingly fearless, with adrenaline telling you that you are invincible.


I have felt weakness. I have felt my supposedly mighty muscles shudder, felt my devastatingly powerful weapon shake in my hands, felt my heart hammer against my armor, felt my soul and mind search for some way to avoid pain and the nightmares that were becoming real.


I felt strength. I would have been lost, but for the words of my Rebbe. “Ein od Milvado” There is no one but Him. The mere utterance strengthened limbs, and a surge of faith and hope carried me through the invasion, through the detonations and whistling of ricocheting rounds and falling bombs. For I knew, for once KNEW and understood absolutely that I was in the hands of the greatest general on earth. A veteran of every war and every conflict, the ultimate warrior and defender of His people. I remember the joy that swept through the lines when they said the head commander was entering the field, because of his experience and strategies, everyone felt safer. It reminded me that an even greater Commander had been there all along. I understood the words of Tehilim 147, “Not in the strength of the horse does He desire, and not in the legs of man does He favor. God favors those who fear Him, those who hope for His kindness.” My strength had failed me, yet when I begged God to allow me to be a conduit for His strength, to be His shield and a sword for His people, I was able to stand and fight. Those nights, my body was there, but God fought on that field.


I am not free of sin, and was by no means worthy of the miracles that befell me. That God aided me; that my entire battalion walked out, against all odds, while every other unit suffered losses, without serious casualty or mental scarring, was a miracle beyond any. That I was able to feel His strength replace mine, a gift for which I was undeserving.


My strength lay in the thousands of people who prayed for me, who prayed for the wellbeing of the army, who cried for the return of the fragile and precious Jewish youth who fought like lions where men twice their age would have fled. You are the reason we returned. You are the reason I am alive.


You, the people who pray and cry and feel you are not the front lines, are truly the army of Hashem. The IDF, as people should see, is merely the physical arm of what your prayers accomplish. You are the ones in the battle. We are the holding action, delaying the physical evil while you battle to clear the path for Moshiach. Never again will I feel a yeshiva student who learns all day is not brave for not being with us on this field.


Because I watched the words and letters that he learned and prayed march ahead of us, thousands deep, and millions strong, absorbing the bullets and metal meant for me. I thank you, humbly, warriors of my heart and faith. You let me come home to my wife.


During this war, we received a tremendous outpouring of love and support; letters, donations, food, and clothing. In specific, because I know them, although without diminishing the greatness of all the people I don’t know, I want to thank my mother and her tireless blogging efforts, my family for their support and letters, my wife for being brave beyond any woman or man I have ever known.


I want to thank Congregation Tiferes Yisroel for remembering an old neighborhood kid, and multiplying that to help all my brothers in uniform. I want to thank all of the community in Baltimore for the davening and love that we felt even in the heart of darkness.


I want to thank the little six-year old who wrote, “Dear IDF, I am proud of you.” I cried over that letter, my tears running through the pain and stress as we recovered from Gaza.


I want to thank the people who donated money for the vests that saved our lives, the people that gave us clothes to warm our bodies, candy to warm our hearts, and letters to warm our souls. You cannot know what one pair of socks, one chocolate bar, or one hastily written sentence can do to save the minds and hearts of your children from despair.


I am not as gifted with words as my mother, nor a hero as great as those who marched beside me or filled the air with prayer around me, but I hope from this letter, from my fumbling thoughts you can draw for yourself the love and hope I am trying to convey.


I have seen this people, my people, at its best and at its worst. I can see why Redemption will come soon. As a nation, we drew together. Disunity, differences in Kippot or sects fell away, and everyone reached out to help as best they could. No one said, “I have no part” or “This isn’t my war”.


May Hashem see the greatness of His holy, beautiful people, and allow me to sing that old song to my child, with absolute truth and great joy: “I promise, my little one, that this is the last war.”


Joshua Eastman made aliyah from Baltimore in 2005. He met his wife, Chana, on a trip back to Baltimore; and the two of them live in Givat Ze’ev. Joshua is currently a full-time soldier in the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. When he can get near a computer, he blogs about his life in Israel at “Through Josh-Colored Glasses,” <>



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Click Here to Write a Letter to An IDF Soldier



Project SOS Aims To Strengthen Israeli Troops


As the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) battle Hamas in an attempt to put an end to Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, an international effort to show solidarity with the Israeli soldiers has begun.  Project SOS (Strengthen Our Soldiers) encourages individuals, families, synagogues, and schools throughout the world to send an e-mail message to soldiers of the IDF in order to give them chizuk (strength) during the current military operation in Gaza.  Through Project SOS, which is being spearheaded by the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) in New York City, concerned individuals can write messages of hope and inspiration to IDF soldiers and provide them with much-needed strength during this difficult time.


Project SOS has been developed in conjunction with IDF Colonel (Reserves) Geva Rapp, who is presently on the front lines in Gaza with thousands of IDF troops under his direct command.  Colonel Rapp is also the founder of an Israel-based organization called Panim El Panim (Face to Face), which works to bring together Israelis of varying religious backgrounds, spread the message of unity and spiritual growth, and enhance and strengthen the spirit of Judaism within the army.  According to Colonel Rapp, the Israeli soldiers would greatly appreciate messages of chizuk as they encounter difficult and hostile conditions, and a dangerous enemy hoping to defeat them.


“Kol Yisrael Areivim Ze Lazeh – every Jew is responsible for one another,” said NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner.  “As Jews, we have an obligation to help our fellow Jews whenever possible, especially during their time of need.  As the soldiers put their lives on the line to protect our homeland and our nation, the soldiers in the IDF need to hear from us how much we appreciate what they are doing and we need to let them know that we are praying for their safe return.  The simple act of sending a soldier an e-mail expressing your thoughts and prayers can give them the strength they need to continue their critical mission.”


To participate in Project SOS, e-mail your message of chizuk and strength to  In their letters, people are encouraged to let the soldiers know who they are and where they are writing from; articulate their thoughts; and express their gratitude for all that the soldiers are doing to protect the Jewish people.  Every letter that is sent to will be printed out and distributed to numerous IDF soldiers with the assistance of Colonel Rapp.


In addition to Project SOS, the National Council of Young Israel is also working with Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook, the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, Israel, and the Bostoner Rebbe (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz) of Har Nof, Israel to lead Operation Tefillah, Torah & Troops, which is a worldwide effort aimed at providing the IDF troops with spiritual support.  Each person who takes part in Operation Tefillah, Torah & Troops is paired with an Israeli soldier, and is responsible to say tefillot (prayers), learn Torah, and do special acts of chesed (kindness) on behalf of that solider.  To participate in Operation Tefillah, Torah & Troops and receive the name of an Israeli soldier who needs your prayers, send an e-mail to the National Council of Young Israel office at  To request the name of a soldier by phone or fax, call the National Council of Young Israel at 212-929-1525 x100, or send a fax to 212-727-9526.


For more information about Project SOS or Operation Tefillah, Torah & Troops, call 212-929-1525 x100, or visit


Are you a Zionist? 2008

Update: Winners of Moskowitz Zionism Award Announced (  

The winners of the First Annual Moskowitz Prize for Zionism have been announced.  They are:

* Rabbi David Fendel, the Rosh Yeshiva [Dean] of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot

* Moshe Moshkovitch, credited with renewing Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion

* Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ron Ronen-Pekar, founder of the Tzahala Project

The three will share the $100,000 prize.

Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz have announced the annual Moskowitz Prize for Zionism - a sum of $100,000 that will first be awarded this Independence Day.

The new prize's website states that the award "was established in recognition of the people who put Zionism into action in today's Israeli society - at times risking their own person security, placing the collective before personal needs, and doing what it takes to ensure a strong, secure homeland."

The intention is to grant an annual award to "person's who best personify the essence of modern Zionism in Israel, providing innovative or exceptional activity that reflects the values and challenges that face Zionism today - in education, culture, settlement, social action, and other spheres.

The "Strength of Zion Prize" is named for the verse in Isaiah 52 which reads, "Awaken, awaken, wear your strength, Zion."

The prize is likely to be divided among up to three winners, who will be chozen by a public committee made up of public and private figures, including the folliwng: Ex-foreign and Defense Minister Moseh Arens, former Amb. Yoram Ettinger, former Public Security Minister Uzi Landau, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Rabbi Daniel Moskowitz, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani, and Lt. Col. (res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas.

The committee will be chaired by Cherna Moskowitz, and Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann will be its special Academic Advisor.

Prize recipients must be citizens of Israel - not organizations - 18 years or older, residing in Israel. Information and forms may be downloaded at