The soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces face many challenges as they give their all to secure the country’s volatile northern and southern borders. Iran is constantly stirring up its proxies in Lebanon and Syria, and Hamas ensures that not a week goes by without violent protests emanating from Gaza.
As Israel’s soldiers put their lives on the line for the country, many in the Jewish communities in the United States wonder how they can show their support for the brave young men and women in uniform. Thanks to a new initiative, eighth-grade boys from yeshiva day schools in the New York metropolitan area will soon have an opportunity to do so while showing support for their own schools as well, in addition to having a great time!
The inaugural Hoops for Heroes Yashar LaChayal 8th-Grade Boys Basketball Tournament will be held next month, benefiting Yashar LaChayal, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of those serving in the IDF. With the tournament being coordinated by Judah and Carol Rhine, funds raised by participants and sponsors will go towards three of Yashar LaChayal’s flagship projects.
One of the projects is the Needy Soldier Fund, which provides various forms of support (holiday food packages, grocery assistance, furniture, appliances and more) to soldiers who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The Base Enhancement Project, which provides rec rooms and gyms on army bases with furniture and equipment, will also be supported by the tournament proceeds. Finally, funds will go towards Yashar LaChayal’s weekly hosting of off-duty soldiers at home games of HaPoel Jerusalem, one of Israel’s most popular basketball teams.
Yashar LaChayal was founded during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Among its additional projects are the building and maintenance of a chain of “Warm Corner” rest stations for soldiers on patrol throughout the country, the “Injured Soldiers Fund” to support those who are injured in Israel’s defense and the “IDF Widows and Orphans Fund,” which assists the bereaved families of fallen soldiers.
Ten teams from yeshiva day schools will compete in a pre-season game in November and in tournament games on December 16. The schools being represented will include Ramaz, Manhattan Day School, the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Yeshivat Shaare Torah, Magen David Yeshivah, Yeshiva Har Torah and Yeshiva Derech HaTorah of New York, and Hillel Yeshiva and the Jewish Educational Center of New Jersey.
Student athletes who participate in the tournament will have their own personalized fundraising web pages where they can direct family and friends who wish to contribute to Israel’s soldiers. The players from the top fundraising school will win prizes. There are also sponsorship opportunities for the tournament itself.
With support from the Jewish community in the tri-state area, and in particular its eighth-grade athletes, the tournament should be a real boon for Israel’s soldiers. As a Yashar LaChayal representative told one of the participating school’s students, “Not everyone can be on the front lines, but by helping raise funds for these important projects you are showing the soldiers of Israel that you care about them and support them from across the world!”
By Amichai Bacharach