Paper Shields

Some came in fancy, polished metal cases, some in plain plastic ones. A few showed up sans protective cases, the Hebrew letters shin and daled and yud plainly visible on the outside of small parchment sheets.

During the month of November, dozens of mezuzot were left, usually anonymously at night, in a bright red plastic container. The container sat in the corner of Rabbi Yehuda and Laurie Minchenberg’s front porch, behind a potted plant, up four brick-lined steps on a quiet side street in Passaic, New Jersey.

The Minchenbergs had offered to serve as a drop-off site for an impromptu “IDF Mezuzah Project,” a grassroots campaign that began in the wake of the Gaza War. Its goal: to provide mezuzot for the doorposts of every Israeli army base, as a form of Divine protection for the soldiers in their ongoing battle against Hamas terrorists.

The campaign was initiated on short notice by Rabbi Menachem Kahn, a rosh kollel and mezuzah expert who lives in Brooklyn.

In a conversation with an Israeli colleague shortly after the war started, Rabbi Kahn learned that many IDF bases—largely for budgetary reasons—lacked a sufficient number of kosher mezuzot.

The rabbi decided to collect them, have them checked by trained sofrim, send them to Israel and mount them on IDF doorposts as soon as possible.

“We believe that a mezuzah adds extra protection,” says Miriam Sheril, who coordinated the mezuzah collection effort at four sites in the Passaic/Clifton area.

As of this writing in late November, volunteers in more than a dozen US and Canadian cities—like the Minchenbergs—had collected enough scrolls and financial contributions, to send at least 5,000 mezuzot to Israel, Rabbi Kahn says. “Every day we’re getting more . . . the campaign just took off.” He will keep going, he says, as long as the donated mezuzot keep coming in.

Rabbi Kahn has spread the word about his mezuzah-drive largely via social media.

“We’re just answering a need,” Rabbi Kahn says. “Every single door on a base needs a mezuzah.

“A mezuzah,” he says, “is a shemirah for the soldier, a protection. It’s like a helmet.”


Steve Lipman is a frequent contributor to Jewish Action.

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