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Support for the soldiers involved in Operation Brother’s Keeper is coming in from all over Israel and around the world. A significant grant earmarked for soldiers serving in the Hevron area was made by the OU in New York. The purpose of this grant is to reinforce the efforts being made on behalf of the soldiers by OU Israel’s Mashiv HaRuach and Makom BaLev programs in cooperation with Midreshet Hevron.

The two programs have organized groups of volunteers to come to the aid of the soldiers stationed in the area during the search for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. With funding from the OU they are distributing food and drinks, and in some cases have helped find places for the soldiers to sleep and have even arranged to do laundry for the soldiers.

Mashiv HaRuach (Return the Spirit), sponsored by OU Israel, is an intensive experience-based program that inspires soldiers with knowledge of Israel’s history and Biblical heritage. Makom BaLev is styled after NCSY in the United States. It operates 11 youth centers in Israeli development towns.

‘Time for action’

“This is a time for action, not just for theoretical discussions,” says Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director of OU Israel. “This situation demands a call to action for our youth. It gives tomorrow’s soldiers a chance to step up and become part of this effort by distributing food and other items to today’s soldiers.”

“The Orthodox Union in the US is financing this program which is aimed at making day-to-day existence a bit easier for our soldiers,” Rabbi Berman says. “When North American Jewish communities reach out to our soldiers, the soldiers understand they aren’t alone. They understand that this operation is for the entire Jewish people.”

“All activities on behalf of our soldiers demonstrate that the pain the families feel is shared by all of Klal Yisrael. By showing the soldiers how much we value their efforts, we hope to bring the Geulah (Redemption) of the Jewish people,” he says.

Visiting soldiers in Hevron

As part of the effort to keep morale high, Chaim Pelzner, Racheli Ninio (in photo, right) and Odayah Ohayon of the OU Israel staff in Yerushalayim, went to the Hevron area two weeks after the teens were kidnapped. They distributed food, drinks and a variety of books to the soldiers.

“We want to show our soldiers that we support them and that Am Yisrael around the world stands united behind the effort to find the kidnap victims and return them to their families,” says Chaim Pelzner, Director of Programming for OU Israel.

In talking to Makom BaLev youth groups, Pelzner explained that “it is important for every Jew to do something to support our soldiers. Even if it is something small. The idea is to make their life a little better under difficult and often dangerous conditions.”

“At times like this we have to remind ourselves, and teach our children that we are all part of Klal Yisrael. This means we feel the pain of the families and friends of the three kidnap victims as well as the importance of the efforts the soldiers are making,” he says.