‘The soldiers want G-d on their side. And they’re doing everything they can to connect with Him.’
Israel and its soldiers face an insurmountable battle.
Over 130 hostages remain in booby-trapped tunnels.
Hospitals, playgrounds, even daycare centers form the epicenter of violence. Terrorists masquerade as innocent civilians — and “innocent” civilians as young as 12 masquerade as terrorists.
And around the globe, the world cries “genocide,” “ceasefire,” “freedom!”
How do the Israeli soldiers maintain their resolve? Over 80 of their comrades have fallen in battle in these early days of war. How do they fortify themselves to face this cruel and cunning enemy?
“Before we go into battle, we will put on tzitzit (fringes on garments) and tefillin (phylacteries) — and we will win!”
These words from a soldier at a Southern army base were recorded by Rabbi Josh Friedman of the Israel Select Charity Fund.
Rabbi Friedman, a 5th generation Memphian followed his dream and made aliyah to Israel 18 years ago. He has dedicated his life day and night to helping those in need.
“Our brave soldiers are not just practicing military exercises and sharpening their skills,” says Rabbi Friedman. “They recognize this is not a simple war. And so they’re turning to the One who is truly behind them — and Who has the power to bring them eternal victory.
“The soldiers want G-d on their side. And they’re doing everything they can to connect with Him.”
That’s why, besides bulletproof vests and waterproof boots, soldiers all over Israel have a critical request: Give us tefillin!
Inside the boxes of tefillin is the age-old Shema prayer: Hear O Israel, The Lord is our G-d, The Lord is One. This prayer proclaims our service of G-d and how He protects and loves us.
“The soldiers tell me: ‘I have my bulletproof vest, I have my gun, but I am not going into Gaza without tefillin!’” says Rabbi Friedman.
Rabbi Friedman’s organization, Israel Select, typically raises funds for education, medical needs, and mental health support. Yet in these chaotic days, Israel Select has pivoted to help displaced Israelis and soldiers — and in particular, with their spiritual needs.
“We have given out 1,800 pairs of tefillin to soldiers on the frontlines,” says Rabbi Friedman. “And we need at least 1,200 more for soldiers who’ve requested tefillin.”
In addition to tefillin, Israel Select has been providing food and essential supplies for families who have had to evacuate their homes, both in Northern and Southern Israel, as well as supporting the families of the soldiers.
Rabbi Josh Friedman can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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