Under the flickering lights of Israeli artillery, a group of forty young professionals from Chabad Young Professionals embarked on a life-changing journey set to take them to army bases, displaced families, neglected farms, and wounded soldiers.
Under the flickering lights of Israeli artillery, a group of forty young professionals from Chabad Young Professionals disembarked at a makeshift base along the Gaza border. It was the first stop on a week-long mission to Israel, a life-changing journey set to take them to army bases, displaced families, neglected farms, and wounded soldiers across the nation.
This is not a typical tourist trip; it’s a mission of solidarity, connection, and support. The group, coming from five CYP chapters around the world, carried with them more than just gear and sustenance; they brought an outpouring of camaraderie and empathy to the Israeli brothers and sisters they met.
The scene at the Gaza border was surreal — the night sky ablaze with explosions, a stark backdrop to the warm exchanges that unfolded on the ground. From the moment the group stepped off the bus, the air was filled with the sounds of laughter and heartfelt conversations, knitting fast friendships between the visitors and the soldiers. It was a testament to the power of the Jewish people in times of adversity.
For Dr. Chloé Ifrah, a psychologist from New York City’s Upper East Side CYP community, the experience was eye-opening. “I had assumed the soldiers would prefer solitude,” she reflected. “but that could not be further from the truth. They were so kind, appreciative, and wanting to engage in conversation. It’s infectious; I did not want to leave.”
The journey, led by Rabbi Yaya and Devorah Wilhelm of CYP Upper East Side, is more than a gesture of support; it’s a powerful display of the unbreakable connection of the Jewish people, “When family faces hardship, the most important thing is to be there, said Rabbi Wilhelm. That’s the ethos driving us – a commitment to stand with our family and let them know we appreciate their sacrifices for our people.”
During their visit to various IDF bases, the CYP representatives engaged in direct, supportive activities with the soldiers. At each base, they distributed essential gear and Tefilas Haderech Cards featuring the Rebbe’s reassuring image. Their efforts also included sharing meals, such as sushi, pizza, and BBQs, with the soldiers. They participated in sports and recreational activities and organized Kumzitz’s. At one base, they sent pizza to soldiers stationed in Gaza. Throughout these interactions, the CYP group focused on listening to the soldiers’ stories, engaging in meaningful conversations, and establishing a heartfelt connection, demonstrating their gratitude and commitment to the frontline heroes.
“In times like these, such trips are essential,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302. “Being able to give during challenging times is life-changing. We hope the mission deepens their connection to and sense of responsibility for the global Jewish community and Israel, shaping them into selfless leaders for the Jewish future.”