YU Students Organize ‘Operation Torah Shield 3’ to Help Israel
A group of Yeshiva University undergraduate students will be heading to Israel to volunteer and support any way they can, as part of a mission taking place Nov. 12 to 19.
The purpose of the mission, called “Operation Torah Shield 3” by the organizers, as outlined in the group’s mission outline document, is to bring YU students to Israel in order to learn in empty batei midrash, support families who have lost loved ones or sent them to war, provide the IDF with needed supplies and morale and volunteer in various capacities.
The exact details of the trip are still to be determined due to the complicated nature of the situation on the ground in Israel, but the goal is to help out wherever they can. A few potential avenues for lending a hand include cleaning and restocking hospitals, helping farmers tend to their crops, creating a lively atmosphere at simchot [celebrations] where absences have put a damper, visiting shiva [mourning] houses, going to army bases to boost morale and learning Torah in currently empty Yeshivot whose students have been called to war.
Many students have expressed interest in going on the trip, which will cost students $500 at the time of acceptance and a commitment to raise another $500 later, and student interest is projected to be significant. Registration will close Sunday.
The trip, though announced as Operation Torah Shield 3, is actually the fourth such trip. YU students previously went on “Operation Torah Shield” trips during the Persian Gulf War, the beginning of the Second Intifada and before Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The mission began as an idea in the minds of several YU students two weeks ago, on Oct. 13. Davi Hazan (YC '26) and Bentzy Klarfeld (YC ‘25), along with a group of other students across both campuses who declined to give their names, worked through processes of arranging the logistics and securing the funding and support for such an endeavor.
Various Roshei Yeshiva and YU administrators gave their support and are helping to organize the trip. The students also coordinated with alumni who had been on Operation Torah Shield 2 and 3, who encouraged them to make the trip happen and assisted with various logistical issues. The original Operation Torah Shield took place during the Persian Gulf War, in 1991.
“I remember that this was a pivotal leadership opportunity, a formative learning experience for me,” Rabbi Reuven Brand (YC ‘03, Azreli ‘05, Revel ‘07), an attendee of the 2003 mission, told the Commentator. “That trip, with students and Rebbeim and faculty, from uptown and midtown, to be able to have that experience with that group was just amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Ultimately, after a long search and extensive discussions with a variety of organizations, Kumah, a non-profit organization administered by Yeshiva University graduate and the Hebron Jewish community Spokesperson Yishai Fleisher (YC ‘00, Cardozo ‘03), was chosen to help organize with the logistics of the mission. The students are also working on finding donors to support the trip financially, and have partnered with the Israel Heritage Foundation, which will provide some financial backing.
Hazan told the Commentator, “There’s a principle in Avodat Hashem [service of God] that actions create realities. In addition to the importance of learning and davening, we must take action in times like these. YU students need to be involved in helping through maaseh [action] by going and helping on the ground, where it is most needed.”
“Going to Israel in person allows students to provide assistance and makes a statement to Jews in Israel that American Jews care about them,” said Rabbi Brand.
Photo Caption: A picture from Operation Torah Shield 3, before Operation Iraqi Freedom
Photo Credit: Rabbi Reuven Brand