By: Avraham Glatter  | 

Operation Torah Shield 3 Runs Chesed Events at Yeshiva University, Donating Tzitzit and Tefillin to Soldiers

Operation Torah Shield (OTS), a YU student-run organization dedicated to doing chesed in Israel, has pursued multiple initiatives this semester, including a pamphlet aimed at students and campaigns aimed at providing funds and supplies to soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).  

OTS, named after previous student groups that brought YU students on missions to Israel during the Gulf War, Second Intifada and Operation Iraqi Freedom, was reestablished in November to bring students on a fourth mission to Israel following the Oct. 7 massacre. Since then, in addition to a trip it ran in Israel during winter break, OTS has co-produced a pamphlet on Torah topics for YU events, ran tzitzit tying events, and conducted a fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase tefillin for IDF soldiers.

OTS also announced Wednesday that they will be running their third trip to Israel since Oct. 7 this summer. The trip will run for three weeks and run from June 10 to July 4 at the Hesder Yeshiva Sderot.

YU hosted its yearly Dor L’Dor father-son learning program on the Wilf Campus on Presidents’ Day. As part of the program, OTS, Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) and Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) produced a pamphlet of a collection of edited transcripts by YU roshei yeshiva about their perspectives on the current situation in Israel. The pamphlet was mainly edited and organized by DJ Wartelsky (YC ‘25), who put all the shiurim in a readable pamphlet for the public, and Amanda Poupko (SCW '24), who was assistant editor in chief. During the Dor L’Dor program, every parent was given a copy and more were on sale at The Seforim Sale at YU.

OTS also ran a tzitzit tying event for students on Feb. 21, during which students tied and donated several dozen pairs of tzitzit for soldiers.

“Within recent times we have had more opportunities where Tzahal [the IDF] has specifically requested a lot of begadim [tzitzit] to be tied for the soldiers on the field,” Yosef Feld (YC ‘25), a leading organizer of the event, told The Commentator. “So I figured I know how to tie tzitzit and it turns out many people have never had the chance to tie tzitzit.” This was a “perfect opportunity” to do so, Feld told The Commentator.  

The largest initiative OTS has run this semester was the campaign to raise funds to buy pairs of tefillin for soldiers. The campaign, called “Nafsho K'shura B'nafsho,” was originally proposed by Rabbi Josh Friedman, founder of Israel Select Charity Fund, as part of the charity’s larger campaign to raise money for 6,000 pairs of tefillin for soldiers who have committed to wearing them. The campaign has raised over $20,000, enough to purchase tefillin for 40 soldiers. The campaign is still ongoing. Any team that donates $500, the equivalent of one pair of tefillin, will be in a raffle for a free trip to Israel.

Students involved in OTS since the Oct. 7 attacks described to The Commentator the role that the organization plays.

“We are a hyper focused chesed organization,” Bentzy Klarfeld (YC ‘25), one of the leaders of OTS, told The Commentator. “We don't look at politics, what we do is chesed. That's our goal. Chesed. If it's helping Klal Yisroel then we’re all for it.” 

Editor's Note: This article was updated on April 4 to list Amanda Poupko (SCW '24) as assistant editor in chief of OTS's publication handed out at the Dor L'Dor program.


Photo Caption: Students on an OTS mission in Israel during winter break helping pick oranges

Photo Credit: DJ Wartelsky / Operation Torah Shield