The Pre-k class of the Chabad Early Learning Center of the West Side met with 10 Israel Defense Force veterans Wednesday at a brunch to thank them for their service protecting our people and the holy land of Israel.
Accompanied by Chabad of the West Side Family Programs co-director Rabbi Chayim B. Alevsky on the guitar, they welcomed the former soldiers with classic Hebrew songs. The children taught the soldiers the song, “Hashem is here, Hashem is there…” Rabbi Chayim explained that although Hashem is indeed found everywhere, His protection is needed and felt more strongly in the land of Israel.
The preschoolers then presented the soldiers with a large thank you card, shook hands and hugged them, thanking them for their service and sacrifice.
War vet Tali said, “We are on our way to a Broadway show, but I’m certain that nothing we see in NY will top this!”
This is the second year that Chabad of the West Side participated in the Zahal Shalom event. Israel Blum, owner of Ajo Home & Lumber Depot and is a longtime friend of Chabad, puts on Tefilin every Friday with Rabbi Alevsky.
As part of the Bergen County Zahal Shalom committee, Mr. Blum hosts the soldiers every year for a breakfast in his busy store on Columbus Avenue, and lunch at the next door neighbor – Darna’s Restaurant.
When Rabbi Alevsky heard about the soldiers visit last year, he took the opportunity to visit with them and convey to the soldiers the Rebbe’s personal message of love and appreciation, and encourage them to put on tefilin and visit the Ohel.
Rabbi Alevsky related what the Rebbe said when he spoke to the disabled war veterans: when someone lacks a material or physical strength, Hashem blesses them with extraordinary powers to overcome their deficiency. The Rebbe then requested that they should not be called Neche Tzahal – rather Mitzuyanei Yisrael.
“Last year, a soldier told me his story,” Rabbi Chayim Alevsky said. “Just before leaving on his tour of duty, a Chabadnik gave him a Tehillim with the Rebbe’s picture. He kept the little book of Psalms in his shirt pocket, and prayed from it daily. He was assigned to a tank on the front lines. In the tank, he had a specific spot where he always sat. One day, another soldier insisted that he trade places with him. Reluctantly, he gave up his “makom kevuah” and traded spost with the soldier. Seconds later, a rocket landed exactly in the spot where he normally sat! He attributed his narrowly missing death to a miracle from Hashem. When I met him, he took out the Tehilim and proudly showed me the picture of the Rebbe, and told me: “The Rebbe and this Tehillim saved me!”