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January 18, 1991 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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abbi Gedalya Shem-
tov knew that it was
just a matter of time
before he and his family
would visit Israel. He just
didn't know until the
weekend that the trip would
be as soon as Monday night.
An employee of the
Brooklyn-based Lubavitch
Foundation and a native of
Oak Park, the rabbi was
part of a special and fully
booked El Al flight leaving
New York's JFK Airport for
Tel Aviv.
Organized by Orthodox
Jewish students of Yeshiva
University (Y.U.),
"Operation Torah Shield"
offered participants $50
round-trip air fare to Israel
to study Torah for one to two
weeks. The trip was sub-
sidized by anonymous do-
nors, reportedly from
Florida, to show solidarity
with Israel at this critical
time.
"The idea was for young
college and yeshiva students
to bring a high level of Torah
and morale to Israel," said
David Borowich, 21, a senior
at Y.U. who is also vice pres-
ident of the student council.
A spokesman at Yeshiva
University estimated the
cost of the flight at $350,000,
plus $125,000 in insurance.
Most of the more than 400
passengers on Flight 012
were faculty, students and
alumni of Yeshiva and Stern
colleges in New York.
Among them, Rabbi Israel
Miller, vice president of
Yeshiva University, Roshei
Yeshiva Rabbi Herschel
Schechter, Rabbi Moshe
Tendler and Rabbi Heshie
Reichman. Dr. Norman
Lamm, president of Yeshiva
University and his wife, left
two hours earlier and met
the group at the airport in
Tel Aviv. Approximately 30
Lubavitch Foundation
members, including small
children, also joined the trip.
The flight had a stand-by list
of about 400 people as well.
It was an emotional scene,
covered by television news
crews, as a crowd of about
100 people, most of them
Yeshiva University students
spending the year studying
in Israel, greeted the plane.
There was singing and danc-
ing, followed by a message of
greeting from Deputy For-
eign Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu.

Andy Goldsmith, 21, a
student leader of the trip
from Long Island, told the
crowd: "We have made a
very significant statement
by coming here today." He
said that this is the time for
American Jews to be runn-
ing to Israel, not from Israel.
From the airport, buses
took the students directly to
the Western Wall, where
prayers were offered, and
the singing and dancing con-
tinued. Chief Rabbi of Israel
Avraham Shapiro extended
greetings and Dr. Lamm.,
president of Y.U., told the
students how proud he was
of them.
"We're not scared," Rabbi
Shemtov said. "The Rebbe
(Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem
Mendel Schneerson) said
that the safest place in the
world is Israel. Our mission
here is not to make this a
mission. Going to Israel has
to be a natural thing. By go-
ing we don't feel that we're
doing a big service for any-
one. We're not paying atten-
tion to the situation over
there. We know it's going to
be okay. We know that God
is watching over Israel.
We're going and we hope
that all other Jews will
follow us there."
The organizational aspects
of "Operation Torah Shield"
were entirely run by student
volunteers during finals
week at Y.U. The trip began
hours after the term's last
final exam.
"I don't know what this is
going to do to our G.P.A.'s"
said Andy Goldsmith, 21, a
senior from Cedar Hurst,
Long Island who still wor-
ried about his grade point
average. "But it's certainly
worth it."
Several students donated
their dorm rooms for the
effort.
Parents of the students
planning to go on the trip
were concerned about safety.
Some parents would not
allow their children to par-
ticipate. Many parents ap-
proved of their children's
commitment.
Mr. Goldsmith said his
parents also expressed some
concern when he first told
them he wanted to go on the
trip.
"But they thought, as I
did, that it's a very impor-
tant time for American Jews
to show their support." ❑

Tzvi Dole is a staff reporter for
the Baltimore Jewish Times.
Phil Jacobs is managing
editor of The Jewish News.

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