At the suggestion of the soldier who had led their congregation on a tour of Israel two years ago, members of Temple Sholom in Broomall raised $10,000 to purchase sweat-wicking T-shirts, multipurpose tools and therapy beds for the IDF.
As a tour guide in Israel, Guy Liebovitz led members of Temple Sholom in Broomall around his incredible country during a congregational trip in 2012.
Two years later, he led them in helping his fellow soldiers as they were battling Hamas in Gaza.
On July 25, congregant Laurence Husick, who has stayed in touch with Liebovitz via email since the trip, heard that the IDF reservist — who had been called up to action in Gaza — had paid for 40 pizzas out of his own pocket for his fellow soldiers to enjoy on Shabbat.
Husick wrote back, "What can we do to help?"
What was really needed, Liebovitz told his long-distance friend, were synthetic tactical shirts that could absorb sweat. He and the 100 other men and women in his unit had been issued regulation cotton T-shirts that could barely hold up in the sultry weather. The shirts are sold in Israel for about $25 each, which meant that his unit would need a total of $2,500 to outfit all the soldiers.
Husick "sent out an email to the entire congregation after Shabbat that weekend,” reports Abbey Krain, executive director of the synagogue. By that Monday, less than two days later, Temple Sholom had met its goal — and then some.
“We were amazed,” reports Krain. “We actually raised $10,000 from 150 families."
Considering that so many of the congregation's 450 families are on vacation during the summer, this response was incredible, Krain says.
“The money is still coming in," she adds, and not just from congregants. Synagogue office workers — some not Jewish — are contributing, too.
The funds left over after purchasing the shirts — which Liebovitz handled in Israel — were used to buy Leatherman tools (multipurpose tools sold by a company based in Oregon) and physiotherapy beds used for rehabilitating soldiers wounded in action. And, of course, pizza.
“I am incredibly encouraged by this overwhelmingly beautiful response,” says Temple Sholom Rabbi Peter Rigler. “It speaks volumes of where the congregation is in love and support of Israel.”