By: David Chriqui  | 

Operation Torah Shield Winter Mission Held During Winter Break, Among Other YU Programming in Israel

Yeshiva University students ran another Operation Torah Shield (OTS) mission for students in Israel during the winter break from Jan. 8 to 11. 

The program, called OTS Winter Mission, was the continuation of the volunteer work of the previous mission which took place in November. Over 120 Jewish college students from universities around the country including Columbia, Yale and Queens helped contribute to wartime efforts and aid in Israel.

Bentzy Klarfeld (YC ‘25), Davi Hazan (YC ‘26) and DJ Wartelsky (YC ‘25), along with other students from both campuses, took the lead in planning and coordinating the mission.

“These trips are the latest iteration of the Operation Torah Shield movement,” Klarfeld told The Commentator. “The goal of all of our initiatives are the same; when your family is in a time of need, a time of pain, you do what you can to help. We are excited to continue to be there alongside our brothers in our nation's time of need.” 

The students engaged in various volunteering activities in Israel, such as assisting farmers in picking approximately 3,000 oranges, running carnivals for displaced children, meeting and bringing chizuk (strength) to soldiers, preparing food and visiting Hostages Square in Tel Aviv. 

During their mission, Klarfeld said, students were keen on making every moment count. While on the bus between segments of the mission, students dedicated their time to tying tzitit for soldiers, ultimately completing 30 pairs.

The cost for students to attend the week-long mission was $50 per day, although students were not required to come every day. Monday was exclusively for men, Wednesday for women, while Tuesday and Thursday were co-ed.

OTS was not the only group of YU students to visit Israel during the winter break. The Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership had an 8-day mission of 36 students under the guidance of Vice Provost and Director of the Sacks-Herenstein Center Erica Brown, during which students visited the kibbutzim attacked on Oct. 7, made a BBQ for soldiers and helped farmers. 

YU’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought also brought 22 Straus Scholars on a mission led by YU faculty members. Straus Scholars had the opportunity to hear from several prominent Jewish leaders and thinkers and help displaced children, soldiers and their families while in Jerusalem.

YU’s men’s basketball team, the Maccabees, also traveled to Israel over the break, and played several games against Israeli teams.

“We came ready with an extended hand, to contribute with all that we have to our people.” Yoni Schneider (SSSB ‘26), an attendee of the OTS mission said. “The resounding lesson we took away is simple yet profound – the only path forward is one of unity: Only together shall we triumph.”


Photo Caption: Students on the OTS Mission with oranges that they picked on an Israeli farm

Photo Credit: Operation Torah Shield