The Shmira project, billed as “guard duty for the rest of us,” is being relaunched and adding volunteers.
A rabbinically originated and endorsed program matching Israeli soldiers by name with Jews anywhere in the world to pray, learn Torah and do acts of kindness on their behalf, is meant to create a “spiritual dome” to enhance the soldier’s spiritual merit and protection through a backer’s focusing on specific spiritual actions on their behalf.
Batsheva Goldman, a coordinator of the program in Israel, told The Jewish Star that the effort started during the 2009 Gaza war with a collaboration between Rav Simcha Hacohen Kook and the Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Naftali Horowitz, zt”l (great uncle of Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz of the Bostoner Bais Medrash of Lawrence). A group of people in Baltimore brought out the program again in 2012 with the endorsement of Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael, and it is again being emphasized for the current Protective Edge.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a Far Rockaway resident and executive vice president emeritus of National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), recounted to The Jewish Star his introduction to the program during the 2009 war and the push to reinforce the program now.
“I got a call from Rav Simcha Kook, the Rav of Rechovot. He tells me the army is going in [to Gaza] and because he has a relationship with army bases around Rechovot, got [soldiers’] names for tefilot (prayers) and asked ‘can you get the message out’?” Rabbi Lerner said that he had to get the information out that night since the next day, Friday, he wouldn’t be able to reach most rabbis to promote it in their shuls. He left the office at 3 am and by the time he returned on Friday, “the phone was ringing off the hook, everything went haywire.” Responses were coming in thick and fast from around the world, from yeshivot haredi and not haredi, all kinds of Jews, and even non-Jews.