190 “Lone Soldiers” Graduate IDF Hebrew Course

Photos by Jared Bernstein Photography, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh

About 190 “Lone Soldiers” — immigrants who have come to Israel without their families to serve in the Israeli army, finished a special Hebrew instruction course run by the IDF this week.  

The soldiers, about 100 of whom are headed to combat units, recently made Aliyah from 25 countries from around the world. The graduation ceremony took place on the Michve Alon base in northern Israel, and was attended by Major General Orna Barbivay, who heads the Personnel Directorate of the IDF. The Lone Soldiers were among 500 IDF soldiers finishing the course. The Hebrew Course in Michve Alon is required for all immigrant soldiers and varies from two weeks to three months in length depending on the soldier’s Hebrew proficiency.

More after the jump.
Dan Hirsch, 23, a Lone Soldier from Mexico, who is planning to serve in a special combat unit in the Navy, said:

It’s an amazing feeling to be here after dreaming about this moment for so long. I was very moved at the ceremony; listening to the Israeli National Anthem while wearing the IDF uniform means a lot to me. This is my generation’s turn to take charge.

The soldiers are supported by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF)/Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program. The program works in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Tzofim youth movement “Garin” (kernel) Tzabar, and assists newly arrived soldiers with the transition into their new lives in Israel and national service by offering guidance, social support, care packages, adoptive families and financial aid, as well as assistance to parents of Lone Soldiers in the form of information and support.

Yaakov Rothstein, 19, from Colombia, who is planning to serve in a combat unit, said:

I know that I’m being described as a Lone Soldier, but the truth is that I’m not alone. I am surrounded by many amazing people, including Nefesh B’Nefesh staff who help me and make me feel at home. I’m the happiest person in the world, and am looking forward to doing my service for the Jewish people’s army.

An Ethiopian Jew’s Journey

— by Hannah Lee

I met Barak Avraham, known as Malaku in his native Amharic, during his 2-week tour of the United States on behalf of AMIT, which supports a network of 108 schools and programs in 29 cities in Israel. Avraham’s personal story is a marvelous case study of how AMIT schools turn around individual lives and whole towns. His trek began at age 9 when he walked, with his mother and four siblings, for three weeks from their village of Abu Zava to the city of Gondar in Ethiopia. Sleeping outdoors at night, they were at the peril of anti-Semites, who recognized them as Jews and strangers. (His non-Jewish father, already divorced, stayed at home.)

More after the jump.
Back in their village, his maternal family dreamed of going to Jerusalem, a place like Paradise where people wear white garments and they do not have to work. After waiting eight months, they were accepted for flight aboard the covert Operation Solomon, which airlifted over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews in a 36-hour mission in May, 1991. Before boarding, Avraham’s mother buried their remaining Ethiopian money, birr, because she thought they would not need money in the Promised Land.

Avraham’s memories of his childhood in Ethiopa included Pesach, when they eagerly anticipated the gift of matzot delivered by shluchim (emissaries), homemade soccer balls fashioned from old socks and electrical wire, and a world without television or cars, just as life was lived 200 years before. The transition from a traditional society to a modern one was especially hard for the elders, such as his grandparents who arrived later. His family spent a year in an absorption center, merkaz klita, learning to adjust to Israeli ways, including eating with forks and knives. Ethiopian foods, such as teff and injera, are eaten with the right hand.

Growing up in a rough neighborhood and with a single mother, Avraham lost his way when he was in his “foolish teen years,” tipesh esrei, when he was expelled from one school after another. No one wanted him any longer. This was a painful period for his mother, who cried in shame and sadness. “I decided that I was going to change. That if my mother was going to cry because of me, it would be with pride, not from sorrow.” On the advice of a friend attending school at the AMIT Kfar Blatt Youth Village in Petach Tikva, he wrote a letter of appeal to the director, Amiran Cohen. A visionary educator, Cohen had him sign a pledge of changes he would make in his life.

Cohen, who became a special friend, and the support network of surrogate parents, teachers, and social workers helped Avraham focus his intelligence. He had always been told that he had “much potential.” Upon passing the bagrut, matriculation exams, he was accepted into an elite intelligence unit in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served with distinction as an outstanding soldier. His mother cried with pride and joy at this completion ceremony.

The IDF taught him discipline and it broadened Avraham’s horizons. He listened as his army mates of different backgrounds from all over the country shared their dreams for the future. He knew then he had to get an education, which was assisted by an IMPACT scholarship from the Friends of the IDF. He was the valedictorian and the top Ethiopian student graduating with a degree in government diplomacy from The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. Later, when he earned a master’s in public service, also from the IDC, he gave a speech before an audience of 4,000 and his mother cried again from joy.

Now 30, Avraham is an entrepreneur and founder of an Internet start-up company and manager of a teen community house in Petach Tikva. He is also coordinator of a new program at the AMIT Rambam Elementary School in Netanya. Rambam was a failing school. The Ministry of Education appealed to AMIT to rescue this school, and AMIT now plans to designate it a magnet school, an innovative model that brings together in one school the top-achieving students with the most needy ones. Avraham’s program includes football (soccer to Americans), mentoring, and parent support. Coming from the same poor neighborhood and background, Avraham gives the children confidence that they, too, can succeed.

Avraham’s newest dream is to join the Knesset in the next election. A Social Democrat, he parts ways with the older Ethiopians who tend to vote Likud, although “it’s capitalist,” and they’re poor but they vote for the country’s security needs. His mother, for one, cannot bear to hear anything bad against Israel. (The Yesh Atid party, which won 19 seats in January, has two Ethiopians in its cabinet.) Barak Avraham’s future was paved by the caring leaders and staff of the AMIT schools.

Gilad Shalit Visits 50 “Lone Soldiers”

Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit visited the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices in Jerusalem yesterday to meet with 50 Lone Soldier Olim from across the world. In an informal gathering, Gilad expressed his support and admiration for these brave young men and women who hail from countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, Norway, Mexico, South Africa, France, Argentina, Brazil and Spain and are serving in various units such as Infantry, Intelligence, Paratroopers and Communications among others. “I admire each one of you for what you are doing for our country. Your decision to leave your families and friends and make Aliyah on your own and join the army is truly courageous and admirable. Although you are far from your own families, you are not alone — we are all one family and are here to support you and make you feel most welcome as Israeli citizens,” he said.

More after the jump.

“We are very excited to have Gilad Shalit with us, and are also very proud to be the home for Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF, taking care of all their needs in Israel and providing them with ongoing support. We thank the IDF for their partnership in this important project,” said Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Erez Halfon.

The FIDF/Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program, in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel and KKL, assists newly arrived soldiers with their transition into their new lives in Israel and national service, by offering guidance, social and emotional support, quarterly care packages, adoptive families and financial aid, as well as assistance to parents of Lone Soldiers in the form of information and support.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 33,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.  

A Soldier Speaks of His IDF Unit

— By Hannah Lee

There’s nothing like an eyewitness to convey the visceral and emotional impact of overseas news. So, I’d looked forward to the parlor meeting held at a private residence on the Main Line on Tuesday. Their son, Akiva (a pseudonym to protect his identity), was the featured speaker and he showed computer images of his work with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Their goal for the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) was to outfit his unit, 80-member strong, with fleece jackets, Camelback water bottles, and Leatherman tools.

More after the jump.
Akiva made aliyah (moved to Israel) in August of 2011 after he graduated from Cornell with a degree in engineering. He entered the Israel Defense Force in November. After a 8-month training period and a course as a medic, he was assigned to a combat engineering unit, whose responsibility is to search for mines.  His unit worked along the Syrian border, which he said was the most mined border worldwide after the border between North and South Korea. During last month’s attacks by Hamas, his unit was re-deployed to Gaza.

As a Chayal Boded (Lone Soldier), Akiva is assigned to a religious kibbutz for his time off (others are given stipends for group apartments) and he gets four weeks of vacation for visits home with his family. His engineering degree is not essential to his duties, but his father pointed out that the family insisted that Akiva completes his college education before making aliyah. His medic training was simpler than that for an EMT in the United States, as the focus is on treatment for shock. The first step is in stabilizing the injured soldier for removal from the combat zones.

In its inaugural year, the Pennsylvania and Southern NJ chapter of the Friends of IDF had a busy year. Among their fundraising projects, they built a gym, refurbished a club, supported veterans in their post-IDF studies, donated a Torah scroll to an IDF base, adopted a battalion, sponsored summer camp in the United States for B’nai Mitzvah and soldiers from bereaved families,and sponsored flights home for Lone Soldiers. All donations to FIDF are fully tax-deductible. All purchases are pre-approved by the IDF.

Hamas Instructions To Human Shields

This afternoon, the IDF dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip, warning civilians to stay away from Hamas operatives and infrastructure.

The first leaflet:

To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma’at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal’s Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.

The second leaflet:

To the residents of of the outskirts of Shati, Al-Atatra, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun: for your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move  towards central Gaza city via Al-Falujah, Al-Udda and Salah A-din. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the roads of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.

A short while ago, the Hamas interior ministry spokesman was interviewed on Al-Quds Radio in Gaza and urged his listeners to ignore the IDF warnings. IDF intelligence was listening to the broadcast and relayed the following transcript:

Question: As the bombings go on, I want to address a specific issue: People have been receiving text messages urging them to evacuate their houses…

Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesperson: This is all part of the psychological warfare held by the Zionist enemy… So by using this way of communication, our public radio, I address all our Palestinian brothers by saying: Please do not listen to the orders noted on these text messages, their only purpose is spreading fear and panic within our people.

The IDF does everything it can to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Hamas uses civilians as human shields.

A Letter From An IDF Soldier

— by Adam Klazmer

As you may know, I served in a combat unit of the Israeli Defense Forces — the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s 50th Battalion. This week, my friends and comrades were pulled out of the West Bank and moved to the border with the Gaza Strip in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Now that I am out of uniform, I better understand how difficult it can be on the outside but I refuse to feel helpless. There are still many ways we can help those in harm’s way.

I was in contact today with the head of Yashar LaChayal, a charitable organization that provides support to IDF soldiers.  Yahsar LaChayal means “Straight to the Soldier”.  My question was very simple and very blunt: What do you need and what will it cost? I received this reply:

Many units are on the border waiting. I made three trips today alone from suppliers to units. They need neck warmers, gloves, underwear, hats, and maybe thermals if weather gets colder, toiletries, etc. Most soldiers were on base for about 20 days and were expecting to go home for Shabbat. Pretty tense situation.

I am personally trying to raise $25,000 for my unit — Nahal 50.  This money will help keep my friends warm as they continue their preparations. Please do not think that these soldiers will be facing a mild winter.  Having lived through Philadelphia and Boston winters, I can honestly say that the coldest I have ever been (and probably ever will be) was during the winter on the border with Gaza.

All operational and administrative costs of Yashar LaChayal are paid annually by the Moskowitz family of Miami Beach.  This means that every dollar that you donate will help to equip an Israeli combat soldier. Yashar LaChayal is a registered non-profit in the US so all donations are 100% tax deductible.  

Please pass this article along to your friends and family — and encourage them to give what they can.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for anything you can do to help.

Cookies For IDF Soldiers!

Support IDF soldiers and reservists at the front line!

Bakery 29 will be distributing cookies to Israeli troops in the south with the help of the Association for the Well Being of Israeli Soldiers.

You may donate cookies online or email your order to Rani at [email protected] or [email protected]

Price is $15/lb.(131 NIS/kg), delivery included.

Bakery 29 is kosher dairy, with certification from the Tel-Aviv Rabbinate.

All of Bakery 29’s proceeds go to the IMPACT! Scholarship Program sponsored by Friends of the IDF.

We hope to make their day a bit sweeter!

Israel Begins “Pillar of Defense” In Response To Hamas Attacks From Gaza

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – In the last week alone, Hamas, a terrorist organization, has launched 150 rockets at Israel’s south. Currently, 15% of Israel’s population is currently under a terrorist attack.

Israel cannot tolerate the escalation of rocket fire aimed at its citizens.

To impair the terrorist infrastructure, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with targeted strikes against those responsible.

The Israel Air Force (IAF) seriously impacted Hamas’s long-range missile capabilities and underground weapons storage facilities. The IAF has acted restrained and surgical in its response to the Hamas missile escalations, and has not targeted the long-range missiles stored in mosques, schools, and hospitals. Hamas, conversely, is deliberately firing at Israeli civilian population centers, including schools, hospitals and houses of worship.

More after the jump.  
Hamas rockets fired at Israeli civilians in the past have had a range of up to 25 miles. Today, the IDF targeted the Fajr-5, which has a range of nearly 40 miles, putting three million Israelis within terrorist missile range. This additional range encompasses the major metropolitan area of Tel Aviv.

As part of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel eliminated Ahmed al-Jabri, the head of the Hamas military wing, who joined Hamas in 1995 and rose to a senior leadership position in 2004. He was directly involved in numerous terrorist attacks against Israel, including the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

“We are sending an unequivocal message that our citizens will not be hostage to terrorist missile fire and cross-border attacks,” Ambassador Michael Oren said. “The scope of the IDF’s defensive operation depends on Hamas and whether it takes the decision to cease firing missiles on our neighborhoods and homes. Israel has the right and duty to defend itself from terrorist attacks designed to kill thousands of its citizens.”

Consul General to the Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, Mr. Yaron Sideman commented, “We are not acting in a vacuum. In the past 24 hours, Israel has endured 120 missiles fired indiscriminately at our nation. In the past year, over 800 missiles were fired. In 2009, over 2500 missiles were fired at our citizens. Israel showed much restraint to numerous attacks. “

Veterans Day: Americans Visit Israel To Thank IDF Soldiers

FIDF supporters from the Ohio Region on the FIDF National Mission to Israel, standing next to one of the airplanes that participated in the attack of the Iraqi nuclear base in the 80’s. Photo credit Einav Rimon

TEL AVIV- November 11, 2012 – Over 50 prominent Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) lay leaders and supporters from the United States embarked on a unique seven-day journey to Israel as part of the FIDF National Mission to Israel to show their appreciation and support for Israel’s soldiers. The delegation arrived in Tel Aviv last Sunday, November 4th, 2012.

The FIDF mission, which was primarily aimed at acquainting participants with the IDF and its brave men and women in uniform, provided participants with the opportunity to spend time with IDF soldiers on various military bases across Israel. The group met with soldiers from several elite IDF bases, including the Machva Alon Educational base and the famous Nevatim Air Force base, where they met F-16 pilots. Mission participants were also given a special tour of the Gaza Border Region.

The group met with several top-level government and IDF officials, including the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, at his official Briefing Room, and Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, and the IDF’s 17th Chief of the General Staff.

More after the jump.

FIDF supporters at an IDF Air Force Base. Photo credit: Einav Rimon.

“The Friends of the IDF delegation which has embarked on this important journey to Israel signifies the deeply rooted connection between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the brave soldiers who serve to protect it,”

said FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon.

This extraordinary mission to Israel culminated with a special FIDF ceremony, saluting the IDF commanders, at the Palmachim Air Force base. Hundreds of soldiers, FIDF supporters, and members of the IDF general staff, including IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, came together for an evening of celebration of and gratitude for Israel’s soldiers and the hard work they endure to protect the Jewish homeland and its people around the world.

Among the mission participants were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; and FIDF National President, Julian Josephson.

FIDF Mission participants with IDF soldiers on a base in the South of Israel.

Hero Lives On Through IDF Torah Scroll Restoration Project

— by Toby Klein Greenwald

At the age of 17, boys in Israel receive their first draft notice. A fly on the wall can hear them discussing animatedly, with their friends, the units to which they hope they will be accepted. There are units whose names conjure up extra “prestige” — like the Shayetet (Israel’s Navy Seals), Duvdevan or Maglan.

But the most coveted assignment, for young men of sharpest wit and strongest body, is Sayeret Matkal — the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit. It is an elite special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces, a commando unit that carries out the most dangerous and courageous operations, both in Israel and beyond its borders. The Entebbe rescue, in which commander Yoni Netanyahu was killed, was carried out by Sayeret Matkal. Even to be invited to what is called the “gibush” — the first intense level of screening — for Matkal, as it is called colloquially, is a badge of honor, and only a select few make it past that initial stage.

More after the jump.

In the Lebanon War of 2006, in which 44 Israeli civilians and 119 IDF soldiers were killed, the name of one man who belonged to Matkal stood out above the rest — “Moreno.” He was the highest ranking officer to die in that war, and the operations he performed during his career were so highly classified and so secretive that, to this day, it is not permissible to publish his photograph.

Moreno fell in combat towards the end of the war in a complex and secret commando mission, against the Hizbullah, in the Bekaa Valley. Among his commanders and his soldiers were those who compared him to Bar Kochba. One fellow soldier said, “James Bond films pale in comparison to Moreno.”

Who was Moreno?

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Yehuda Moreno was born in France in 1971. His family made aliyah when he was a year old and he grew up in Jerusalem, attending religious high schools and belonging to the B’nei Akiva youth group. He studied in the pre-army yeshiva military academy Eli, completed a degree in Law while he served in the IDF, and also worked for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), before he returned to the Matkal unit. He was married with three children.

According to a 128-page book, Silence is Your Praise, published in his memory, he worked constantly on his character traits. The book’s chapters include: Belief, Kindness, Religious Observance, Leadership, Modesty, Truth and Dealing with Crisis.

In an powerful Jerusalem Post column of August 22, 2006, Caroline Glick describes not only Moreno’s heroism, but his humble behavior, how he lived quietly with his wife and three children in a moshav near Sderot. Shaul Mofaz, former minister of defense, who had been Moreno’s senior commander in Matkal, described how he heard, after Moreno’s death, how Moreno and his wife, Maya, lived modestly, and helped four or five other families from his paycheck. Mofaz also said, “Emmanuel was a man of stature; an officer, a leader, but also an individual of iron will.”

In a series of interviews on the Moreno website, “M”, one of his comrades in arms, says, “He was one of the most talented warriors who ever lived in Israel. I think the comparison to Bar Kochba, [the leader of Jewish revolt against Rome between 132 and 135 AD], made by one of his commanders, is accurate. I’ve known many fighters, but I don’t think the Jewish people ever had one like Emmanuel — for both his faith and his heroism… He never thought about himself, only about the big picture.”

In 1994 Moreno took part in a sensitive military operation in which Mustafa Dhirani was captured by the IDF, in his family home, in the heart of Lebanon. Israel TV Channel Two reported that, at one point, Dhirani had held missing IDF pilot Ron Arad captive, and it was believed that his capture might lead to information about Arad. For years Dhirani would sleep with a loaded gun under his pillow. When the sayeret burst into his bedroom in the middle of the night, he didn’t even have time to pull out his weapon.

Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, a former soldier in Matkal, says, “He was one of the sayeret of the sayeret — a member of a group that was the most elite even from within the Matkal unit. There is no way of knowing how many lives were saved by some of the operations [in which he was involved]. A lot of glory that nobody knows about and apparently will never know about — is related to Emmanuel’s abilities.”

Naftali Bennett, today a front runner for the Bayit Yehudi party in the Knesset and a hi-tech business guru, who served with Moreno, says, “His value system was different. Generally, people have regard for people who have succeeded, who’ve made money, who have a degree, who have military ranks on their shoulders. With Emmanuel, all that didn’t count. What was important was if you’re a good person, how much you help, how much you care about the people of Israel.”

Bennett spoke to him a few days before he died. “He said, ‘This war will wake up the nation, will cause the nation to understand what’s going on…I had the impression from him that he was preparing for something, I had no idea what it would be or when… I was impressed by his calmness…I think about him all the time, ask myself what he would do in this situation or that…and I hope it will help us to be better individuals.”

His brother, who fought in the same unit, said that the last time they spoke, Emmanuel said he knew this was a difficult war and it would require a human toll, “And we spoke about the fact that we both have families, children, but if we had to, we were ready to sacrifice ourselves.”

Another brother, Rabbi Shmuel Moreno, says, “Emmanuel, like his comrades-in-arms, was a sealed vault – he took the key and threw it into the sea.”

Medals and Decorations

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Yehuda Moreno was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Jewish Heroism by the Jerusalem Conference. He was awarded the Medal of the Chief of Staff of the IDF. He was awarded the Medal of the Chief of the Intelligence Services for his life’s work. He was awarded many additional decorations for military operations, the nature of which, for security reasons, cannot be publicized.

At the azkara (memorial service) held for Lt. Col. Emmanuel Yehuda Moreno, on the sixth anniversary of his death, a senior intelligence officer said,

From a place of anonymity, Emanuel became a national figure, an emulated role model for the nation, for young fighters, for commanders, for comrades, for his family…From a man who lived in the shadows Emanuel became a figure of distinction and renown… From a person who, in his lifetime, influenced military operations and command strategy, through his character and his connection with those to whom he was close, he became a figure who has impacted almost an entire people.

If Emanuel will enter our lives as a mythical figure we will miss the point. Emanuel teaches us about the possible, about how to accomplish today what we did not achieve yesterday. It is about how we will become a little bit better, yet we are still only human beings, not angels and not sons of angels.

From his death we can take with us love, courage, kindness, sacrifice, great faith and great joy among the sadness. Our lives that have been emptied of his physical presence are filled with a different presence…All this we can do because Emanuel is with us. And even though I am not a religious person in the usual sense, I can say that Emanuel can be with us, because God is with us and God is among us, within human beings.

And what is the meaning of God being with us? The meaning is that we, too, are creators of worlds – creators of our own internal worlds. The choice is in our hands.

SafraVeseifa -The Torah Scroll Project

The IDF is a professional, well equipped army with some of the most advanced weapons systems in the world. But Tzahal marches also on the power of faith and courage of warriors like Moreno, and on the mission of Am Yisrael as outlined in the Torah.

In April 2012, Rabbi Shmuel, head of the Beit Midrash of Derech AMI, the post-army Institute for Jewish Studies in Honor of Lt. Col Moreno, of blessed memory, initiated a project called “SafraVeseifa” — “The book and the sword.”

SafraVeseifa repairs sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) that have been damaged, often due to the rugged physical conditions in the field. “What distinguishes the IDF from other armies in the world,” the project directors say, “is that there is a Torah Scroll on each base, that strengthens their fighting spirit and reminds them about what they are fighting for.” Moreno’s family created the SafraVeseifa project as a tribute to his memory, and to the bravery and belief of those who serve.

Derech Ami has taken upon itself to repair the more than 200 IDF sifrei Torah that now invalid. The checking and repairing of the scroll must be painstaking and thorough. The Moreno scrolls undergo hundreds of hours of meticulous proofreading and editing, including a final computerized scan and check to ensure accuracy. The process takes between three months to half a year. The students of Derech AMI are being trained in this skill so that, in addition to their Torah learning, they will acquire a profession. The fact that they are studying in an institute dedicated to Moreno’s memory affords them additional motivation and inspiration in their work of tikun on the sifrei Torah.

When the scroll is pronounced “kosher” it goes back to “active service,” sent to an army base, and a re-dedication ceremony organized by the IDF, a hachnasat sefer Torah, is held. The project is dependent on donations, and the IDF permits the donor to decide in whose name he or she wants to re-dedicate the Scroll. The cost of repairing each sefer Torah is approximately $10,000.

In the first two months of the project, donations to repair five Torah scrolls were already pledged. It is apparently the aura of Moreno’s heroism that is prompting people to take part in this important mitzvah. Torah scrolls dedicated by Marc Belzberg of Jerusalem; Isaac Appelbaum of Oakland, California; the Mizell brothers of Denver, Colorado; and the community of Raanana, Israel will go to the Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon; emergencies and the IDF delegation to Poland; the unit of Emergency Preparedness of the IDF; and an Air Force base, respectively.

Uri Dopelt, who directs the Safra Veseifa project, was recently in the U.S. During his first week there, he received donations to repair fifteen more Moreno Torah scrolls.