By Daniel M. Meyer April 19th, 2012
Although generally thought of as an American organization, the Young Israel Movement has been very involved in Israeli life for decades – and this week, the Israel branch of the International Young Israel Movement dedicated – for the 202nd time – a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) to the IDF. This is the first of three Sifrei Torah being facilitated by the Movement between Pesach and Shavuot.
The groups have been raising funds for the Torah scrolls and donating them to the army for the past 12 years, in a project initiated by National Council of Young Israel Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Yedidya Atlas of the IDF Rabbinate. The project is named in memory of Ruby Davidman, who made aliyah over 30 years ago and was very involved in providing for the spiritual needs of IDF soldiers (www.redeematorah.org).
The donated scrolls are brought to Israel from synagogues throughout the world. They are in a worn or damaged state and donors are found to repair them and rededicate them in honor or in memory of loved ones or on special occasions. Upon their arrival in Israel, the scrolls are placed in different army, navy, and air force bases according to the needs of the IDF. Recently, Young Israel gained the rights to Sifrei Torah from Romania that survived the Holocaust, and just need donors in order for them to be redeemed and given to the IDF.
On Monday, Dr. Joseph and Judy Berger of Toronto dedicated a Sefer Torah on the occasion of Dr. Berger’s 70th birthday. In a small but moving ceremony Dr. Berger presented the Torah to the IDF Rabbinate at their central base, and from there it will be placed in an Aron Kodesh of a secret air force unit. Dr. Berger emphasized that a strong Israel is not only important for the people who live in the country, but is vitally important for the Jewish people who live in the Diaspora communities.
The second Sefer Torah will be dedicated five days after Yom Ha’atzmaut. It is being dedicated by David & Chana Walles to the Iron Dome anti-missile unit, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of their premier tour company Eddie’s Kosher Travel. David states that “giving a Sefer Torah to the IDF is of special significance to my family as this Sefer Torah will be used on a daily basis by young men who have devoted their formative years to defend those of us living in Israel. The combination of spiritual strength and physical might is in my mind, the secret of the IDF’s success in defending Eretz Yisrael, and why we at Eddie’s Kosher Travel decided to back this project and show our appreciation. We encourage others to follow…”
The third Sefer Torah is to be dedicated on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, in the final countdown to Shavuot, by Mr. Harvey Schwartz, the Chairman of the Leo V. Berger Fund and will be delivered to the Israel Navy Training base. The Leo V. Berger Fund has kindly posted a Challenge Grant for this project, whereby the Fund will dedicate one Sefer Torah for every two dedicated by others.
Ceec Harrishburg, President of the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region states, “donating a Sefer Torah to the IDF is a wonderful way to pay Hakarat Ha’tov to all
“The National Council of Young Israel is proud to be the conduit for so many Young Israel and non-Young Israel synagogues in the USA and Canada to send our IDF soldiers a Torah scroll for their daily and Shabbat needs,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “These soldiers put their lives on the line every day to protect their people and land, this is the very least we can do. It is indeed an honor.”