Over the course of the summer, the state of Israel and the entire Jewish people experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. As the events of the kidnappings and subsequent murder of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were discovered, followed by Operation Protective Edge and the ensuing fighting in Gaza, the entire nation stood together as “am echad”, turning to each other and to Hashem for support during the dark times.
At YULA Boys High School, it was impossible for the events to go unmarked. The entire student body took the opportunity to recognize the events of the summer, pay tribute to those who have perished, and set clear goals for what the student body could do as a group to support Eretz Israel.
Students participated in a school-wide program that included a personal video message from Racheli Frankel, mother of Naftali, one of the three murdered yeshiva students. She expressed her gratitude to the LA community for their support over the last few months, and reiterated that although we do not know Hashem’s ultimate plan, the power and strength of the Jewish people is undeniable, and the events of the summer only came to prove that.
The students were then privileged to hear from Mr. Stuart and Jake Steinberg, father and brother of Max Steinberg, Z”L, a lone soldier from Los Angeles who was killed this summer fighting on the front lines in Gaza. Mr. Steinberg told the students about his son, Max’s passion for Israel, how he was committed to achieve whatever he set his mind on, and how he found his path as a soldier in the elite Golani unit. It was truly a remarkable and moving event for everyone. The program concluded with a thank-you message from current IDF soldier and LA native Kevin Orenshein, and a speech from Mr. and Mrs. Orenshein.
To turn their support into action, the YULA boys student body decided to adopt a school-wide project, including a Torah learning and chesed component, in the memory of those who have perished. Although the IDF is one of the strongest armies in the world, the soldiers are still in dire need of critical supplies. With the help of student leaders Sam Richter, Jordan Lustman, Ariel Amsellem, Jonah Kasdan and Doni Yellin, the YULA students, faculty, and alumni joined forces to sell “YULA Supports IDF” bracelets, with the goal of raising enough money to buy bullet proof vests for an entire unit.
Over the course of two weeks, the entire student body collaborated and with the help of family and friends, the boys raised an astounding $8,000, which will go towards ensuring the continued safety of Israeli soldiers and protecting Am Israel.