The Shmira Project, a prayer matching program with the IDF, was started by Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook in 2006 in response to the Second Lebanon War with Hezbollah. The Rabbi then joined with the Bostoner Rebbe in 2009 for Operation Cast Lead.
The word shmira (pronounced shmeerah) means “guarding” or “protecting” or, in modern Hebrew, refers to guard duty.
The initiative has been expanded to include the efforts of a mother of a chayal boded in the paratrooper division. A chayal boded, Hebrew for lone soldier, is one who came to Israel from another country to serve in the IDF but has no family here.
During the first week of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, over 10,000 people from around the world signed on to the Shmira Project. Each took the name of an IDF soldier or resident of Israel who was in danger. The response was swift and powerful.
The Shmira Project is a person-to-person match that follows the ancient practice of pairing physical effort with spiritual effort. The families of soldiers enjoy the reassurance of spiritual support for their children. Participants enjoy knowing that they are building a ‘spiritual Iron Dome.’
The acts of kindness involve, for example, donating to charity, including soldiers in prayers, volunteering for the homeless, Sabbath hospitality, reciting tehillim (psalms), learning Torah or visiting the elderly or sick. A single act of kindness on behalf of an unknown soldier thousands of miles away exponentially increases one’s connection to Israel and the armed forces on the front lines.
Anyone can join the Shmira Project. It’s personal. It’s powerful. It’s one name at a time. It’s guard duty for the rest of us.
Author: Noah Alhadeff
Staff Writer, United with Israel