Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tzedakah, Days 4/5

I neglected to throw some change in the tzedakah box last night, and I also meant to do it this morning, but forgot. So I've decided to do a little researching on the Web this morning for Jewish charities (I'm not going to be Jew-exclusive, here, never fear, but that's where I'm starting my tzedakah -- I also intend on donating to groups focused on literacy, because darn't I need more readers!). Today's lucky winner?

FIDF: Friends of the Israeli Defense Force

Mission Statement: The FIDF initiates and helps support social, educational, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland. The FIDF also provides support for the families of fallen soldiers.

When I was in Israel on Birthright in December, the time I spent with the Israeli soldiers who took time away from the IDF to jaunt around the country with us was probably the most memorable. Here are these people, my age, half a world away who are willing to put their lives on the line for not only the safety of the Jewish homeland, but also for me. Yes, little ole me over here in the United States. They aren't just protecting Israel, they're protecting every Jew from New Zealand to Alaska to Dallas to Warsaw to Beijing. They do it every day so that we will always have a place of safety, a home. Visiting Mt. Carmel cemetery was one of the hardest things I've ever done, period. I cried like a baby when I saw the grave of the paratrooper with my name, not to mention when I saw the not-so-old grave of a soldier who passed during the Second Lebanon war where someone had placed a toothbrush. Something so simple as a toothbrush! This soldier, surely, in his afterlife needs a toothbrush, no? There were old men sitting near graves, just staring at their sons. And there were empty plots, ready and willing to take on the remains of soldiers who fell during the most recent and upcoming wars. It was a beautiful place, a shrine to the lives of the soldiers who make MY life easier to live.

So, for yesterday and today, I give to the Friends of the IDF -- may these funds offer good things for my friends, the soldiers, and to the families of those who have fallen to protect you, me, and the message of shalom.