About a week ago, Rabbi Leonard Oberstein, director of the Teacher’s Institute at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, received a call from Rabbi Yissocher Dov Eichenstein of Mercaz Torah and Tefillah regarding Eichenstein’s desire to “do something for our soldiers, specifically that they go into battle with the right safety gear.”
As explained in a Facebook post from Oberstein dated July 26, the Ner Israel rabbi’s son Yoni is a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces. Yoni, whose unit retrieves combatants’ bodies in order to provide proper burial, said that he and his fellow soldiers “desperately need modern ceramic bulletproof vests, that they had only a very few old Vietnam-era vests and that they could use 80 of the better vests that can withstand modern warfare.”
Baltimore’s Jewish community, and particularly the Orthodox community, responded quickly to a grassroots effort to fulfill the request begun by Congregation Ohel Moshe.
“They have delivered 80 vests to Yoni’s unit, and we have received pictures of our boys wearing them,” Oberstein said in his Facebook post. Research is being done to identify additional units that need more safety equipment, because, according to Ohel Moshe’s site, the response to donate has continued beyond the amount originally requested. Each bulletproof vest costs about $1,500 and has been purchased from a certified IDF provider.
For more information, go to ohelmoshebaltimore.com/vest.