How One Young Man is Making a Difference for Israel

Tags: Judaism, Soldiers and Defense, Israel Engagement

By Jacob Sanders


One of my favorite tasks is the opportunity to assist young teens in connecting with Israel. When Jacob Sanders reached out to me a few months ago about participating in the Israel Forever Mitzvah Project for Lone Soldiers he was so excited that he could do something tangible to help those who protect the people and land of Israel. I had the pleasure of also being in touch with his parents. They were understandably very proud of their son and his commitment to playing an active role in showing gratitude to the young men and women who travel from around the globe to serve in the IDF. Mazal Tov Jacob on your Bar Mitzvah! You are an inspiration to countless people of all ages.

Heidi Krizer Daroff

Hello, my name is Jacob Sanders and I am a seventh grader in Scarsdale Middle School.

I am 12 years old and have attended Westchester Reform Temple for preschool and Religious School since I was four years old. My b’nai mitzvah (with my twin sister, Hannah) was on February 28, 2015.

First, I would like to say that becoming an Israel Forever Teen Ambassador for Israel’s Lone Soldiers is an honor and very exciting to me. I am looking forward to doing what I can to help these brave soldiers.

To me, being a Teen Ambassador was not just for my bar mitzvah project, but a long term project that I am looking forward to participating in for years to come.

I’d like everyone to understand how I became interested in helping Israel’s Lone Soldiers and how I plan to contribute to helping them.

When I was eight years old, my parents took my sister and me to a local synagogue to attend a presentation by three former Israeli soldiers who had been seriously wounded as they did their jobs protecting Israel.

It was hard to listen to them talk about their experiences at first because I was so young and their stories were horrific to hear. I had never heard anything like it before.

It was also hard for me to see the physical damage the soldiers sustained. For example, one soldier was missing a leg. Another soldier had a brain injury because he was blown up in a tank. At this young age, I also learned about the psychological damage that could not be seen with my eyes, when the soldiers talked about their nightmares and flashbacks. I learned that this was called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Fortunately these soldiers received the treatment they needed. But, I think that they will never get over the trauma of war and the life changing experiences they suffered through.

In November of 2014, I purchased 100 blue rubber wristbands that read, “✡Help Israeli Soldiers✡." Each band has a white Jewish Star on either sides of the writing. I am selling them for two dollars each to family and friends, and all of the proceeds I will donate to the Israel Forever Foundation (IFF) Lone Soldier Project. I am selling these bracelets because I want to help the brave Lone Soldiers, and make them recognize that they are thanked for their service.

But, this isn’t the only way I plan to help:

For my b’nai mitzvah I sponsored a gift drive. I sent out an email to everyone invited and asked each of them to bring a small item, such as a toothbrush, deodorant, etc. for care packages. I will also contribute as well as pay for the shipment of these packages to Israel for the brave soldiers of the IDF. I hope that over time, the Temple will place a box at the entrance so that members of our congregation can contribute items if they would like to help too.

I also plan on starting a Letter Writing Campaign. I will write my own letters and ask some of my friends to write letters too. I would really like to have a personal relationship with an Israeli soldier; maybe as a pen pal or perhaps he can visit me and my family in our home. I would also like to talk with my pen pal about just anything, such as sports or things at school, etc. I would also like him to know that he is important, even though we have not met.

As a Teen Ambassador, I am also interested in the Interactive Programs. As I mentioned, I would like to meet a Lone Soldier. It would be really cool if I could meet him before my b’nai mitzvah so we can have a picture together to display at my party and maybe I could even invite him to celebrate this special day with me.

I also want to participate in the Krav Maga Boot Camp, the Field Day and I might even take up martial arts. I love sports and activities and this is why I am really excited to participate in these programs. I am also very interested in participating in the Cooking Project because I am an excellent chef, always have fun in the kitchen, and it would be cool to try new recipes and food!

Thank you for reading my blog. I will keep on writing and sending in submission so that all of you reading this can see what I am doing and maybe consider doing it yourself. Just one person can make a difference in a Lone Soldier’s life - I choose to help out because they are my heroes and because they are very brave people!


Jacob Sanders

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Tags: Judaism, Soldiers and Defense, Israel Engagement