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We Call Him Amo...

Soldiers Respond to CYN Teens

Friday, January 23, 2009, 1:51 p.m.

January 23, 2009 1:51 AM
Click to Watch Video

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

I Spoke to Amo!

Sunday, January 18, 2009, 10:49 a.m.

January 18, 2009 10:49 AM

Amo is back at base, resting, taking his first shower and taking off his vest and boots for the first time in two weeks.

He is happy to be finished and to be back in civilization, to see cars and Israelis. He was very happy to have a proper meal and is looking forward to getting some sleep.

I told him how we are all so happy that he is out of harm's way and how much we all prayed for him and are thinking about him here. He said he is just fine, G‑d has been very good to him, but we should keep praying for all the injured soldiers, they still need our prayers, for them the war isn't over.

He spoke of how he fought alongside soldiers who came from cities which were under constant shelling from Gaza; he is no hero, all the soldiers went through it together. It was tough, it was not a pleasant experience, but they were all in it together.

They are hoping that a truce will be real and they won't have to go back in. It's no fun being under all that stress and having to be in battle.

He promised me some pictures as soon as he can get to a computer.

Thank G‑d Amo has returned safe. I thank everyone who has added in their mitzvot and prayers for the safety of Amo and his boys. I suggest that we continue the mitzvot that we have taken upon ourselves and the prayers for the wellbeing of those who are still in need of miracles. May G‑d send them miracles and may we all merit the time of true peace for the entire world with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

It’s Cold and Wet

Saturday, January 17, 2009, 8:31 p.m.

January 17, 2009 8:31 PM

Last report we got right after Shabbat was that Amo is doing well but is not enjoying the accommodations. He hasn't showered in two weeks and has barely slept, but he's in good spirits and hopes this will be over soon.

At this point he isn't in a combat area, from the sounds of it it's more of a patrol spot. It's raining there and the foxholes they sleep in are cold, wet and damp.

Amo we hope you'll get a break soon.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

We Support You!

Friday, January 16, 2009, 2:22 p.m.

January 16, 2009 2:22 PM
Click to Watch Video

Teens of CYN (Chabad Youth Network) in Toronto express their support and solidarity with soldiers in the IDF.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Perched on a Mountain

Friday, January 16, 2009, 11:42 a.m.

January 16, 2009 11:42 AM

Amo, today a man walked into my office trying to get me to buy an ad for CYN (Chabad Youth Network) in his community directory. Turns out he is a Jewish South African. I told the guy that since the war in Israel started, I am on a rampage, getting as many people as possible to put on tefillin while having you guys in mind. Today there is no such thing as someone saying no to put on tefillin. In the end, he didn't really sell me on the ad but I sold him on tefillin—and his daughter will be joining Torah 4 Teens!

I don't know how many people are reading this blog, but I can tell you, Amo, that all my students and any teens involved in any program directly or indirectly at CYN, know all about you, what you're doing and are praying for you. Many of the students asked me if you can come visit our classes when you come back!

Last night at a board meeting we started with Psalms for the soldiers and again the discussion is...Amo! Ha, you're probably laughing at how much you are the center of attention here. Truth be told, we love you and are very proud of you.

Last we heard was a report this morning – a few hours before Shabbat in Israel – that Amo's getting ready for Shabbat, perched on a mountain lookout, very tired but, thank G‑d, doing well. We heard about the tough confrontations he had last night and how it was a success. We also heard how much he's enjoying the nosh that was sent by his friends in Israel and he's waiting for more. Grandma says he always had a sweet tooth...

We heard that Amo asked about the news headlines, as the boys are getting a sense that things might be slowing down. Although those are the vibes in the media, the feelings of the soldiers, he says, is steadfast—and committed to finishing the job that they went there for and safeguarding Israel's borders.

Amo also asked about getting more socks and stuff for "his boys."

Amo, as I am typing this now it's already Shabbat in Israel so we cannot call any of our friends and contacts there now for updates. I am reminded of last Shabbat at Chabad Gate, when I walked into the synagogue and Rabbi Schochet asked me what we have heard and if there was any news etc… In his speech he spoke about the soldiers and the work they must do on Shabbat and how we here have to strengthen in our mitzvot, specifically in Shabbat observance, for the sake of the soldiers.

Be safe and I hope your prayer service and singing tonight is uneventful—but with the same joy, inspiration and incredible enthusiasm as last week's L'Cha Dodi!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Eating Lots of Tuna

Thursday, January 15, 2009, 10:58 a.m.

January 15, 2009 10:58 AM

We got a report about Amo—he spoke quickly and sounded good.

One of the most difficult moments in the battle was when they had to provide cover from enemy fire as the terrorists tried to take advantage of the IDF during an evacuation in a friendly fire incident. After providing cover for the evacuation they had the very difficult task of cleaning up. There was a powerful silence amongst the soldiers as they cleaned up blood stained gear, still-crackling radios and equipment.

Thank G‑d they are very strong and being extremely successful. They have been able to successfully accomplish many missions that have been given to them.

They are praying and the morale is high. The unity and brotherhood amongst the soldiers is amazing. "Tell Mom and everyone not to worry about me, I am fine!"

He and his friends were very appreciative for all the gift packages they got including thermal socks and underclothing.

From what we have heard, they have plenty of food; Amo is eating lots of tuna, doesn't really eat much of the luf (salami in a tin). They sleep in foxholes and see miracles daily.

We heard that some of the houses they have seen are massive and fully equipped with kitchens and other amenities on every floor.

Amo be safe! We are praying for you.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

The Dangers They Face

Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 9:50 p.m.

January 13, 2009 9:50 PM

I spoke to a friend of Amo's in Israel today who is dealing with some technical things for him. Although much of the conversation revolved around that, he did talk a bit about what Amo and his team are going through.

He mentioned the ambush they encountered in the first days, and described the enemy fire they are battling. On the first day of the ground operations, they were meant to take over a building and use the top floor as a look out. As they were about to enter, one of the unit members spotted a wire—so they didn't go in. Before they knew it, the soldiers heard a massive explosion and Amo saw two of his boys flying through the air from the force of the blast.

Thank G‑d they were okay, but realized the horrifying danger they had just escaped. Apparently, the terrorists expected our soldiers to use the top floor as a lookout, and booby-trapped it.

We also heard that the boys in the unit are working hard; even in the houses they take over, they are always watching for terrorists popping out of tunnels hidden in the floors. There is the sound of bullets whizzing around constantly. We hear, however, that Amo sounds confident and in good spirits, thank G‑d!

Amo, we are all praying for you and your team. Tonight at TFC (Teens for the Community) we made a video in support of the IDF and Israel. I hope you'll get some rest soon and be able to see it. May G‑d guard and protect you all from harm.

Amo today they called me from BBC Radio, asking about you. They wanted to know why a Canadian boy joined the Israeli army. I wasn't lying when I told them how much you care about the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel, and the strength you express in protecting and serving the Jewish people.

The interviewer asked me if I plan on joining you. I said that I am with you now; we are working together. We are both protecting the Jewish people. While you're doing it in Gaza – and it sure is quite a daring task – I am teaching Jewish youth in Thornhill the values of Torah, mitzvot and the Jewish people. Together we bring Jewish pride to our people, preserve and protect them and prepare this world for the coming of Moshiach.

Be safe Amo—call when you can, we all miss you!

Readers: Please continue to add in your mitzvot and prayers for Avraham Meir Ben Leah Naomi and all the other soldiers, especially as we are hearing of the dangers they are constantly facing. May our prayers serve as a protection for all the soldiers.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Singing and Dancing L’cha Dodi

Monday, January 12, 2009, 11:30 a.m.

January 12, 2009 11:30 AM

We just got a report about Amo.

Someone who spoke to Amo repeated his excited words, "You have no idea, I love it here! Get this, Friday night my unit held Shabbat prayer services in a shelled house which we took over… We couldn't have lights on so we had the place lit with flares, we were singing and dancing L'cha Dodi while mortar shells and rockets were going off all around us, but we didn't care... Now that's a Shabbat I won't forget, it was like a carnival!

"We're doing fine. I have my tefillin, tzitzit, Chitas and a dollar from the Rebbe, I feel protected and secure..."

He talked briefly and proudly about the business he is taking care of. He told how they have faced many booby traps and resistance in the past few days; in one round of fire his friend was hit in the leg...

Amo, we are all so proud of you, and your faith and determination is inspiring. We are all happy you're okay... but we're not sleeping at night, man. I am happy you're having a carnival, but finish up and get home!


Wow, what a breath of fresh air to hear about Amo. They say that he sounded strong and happy.

Although the war has now entered the second week of the ground offensive, and the initial reality of the war may be wearing off, please do not let up in saying Psalms and doing mitzvot. For the soldiers the danger is still very real and they need our prayers.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Shabbat Songs on the Battlefield

Monday, January 12, 2009, 10:30 a.m.

January 12, 2009 10:30 AM

We got a report that Amo received the package and was so thankful for that.

The rest of the packages, we learned, didn't make it to his unit rather to other soldiers, and Amo wants his friends in Israel to send packages directly to him which he will share with his unit.

According to our sorces he sounds happy and is in high spirits. He wants his family to know that he misses them and loves them so much.

He was amazed by the experience of singing Shabbat songs with his comrades while bombs were going off in the background. He has been able to put on tefillin every day and is praying and saying Psalms when he can.

We hear that he says that "he is taking care of business..."

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

I Heard Him on the Radio

Sunday, January 11, 2009, 1:12 p.m.

January 11, 2009 1:12 PM

Liran is in Golani 13, the same unit as Amo but a different machlaka (group). Liran is outside the Gaza fence and is in a tank supporting Amo's machlaka which is inside. Amo's machlaka sends radio messages to them asking them for tank support.

A group of friends got special permission today to bring packages to Liran and Amo and were allowed to be at the site of the Golani 13 support unit, where Liran is. During their visit they witnessed a call for support and shelling from the support unit.

They took some video and pictures—which Israeli officials told them not to post online. They also told us that Liran says, "Don't worry, Amo is okay, I heard him across the radio this morning" (Israel time).

Apparently, Amo's unit is constantly on the move and on continuous operations.

May G‑d watch over them.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Tidbits of Information

Saturday, January 10, 2009, 10:40 p.m.

January 10, 2009 10:40 PM

Liran – a friend of Amo's, also in the Golani, but apparently not together with him right now – called a friend in Israel. This friend emailed us saying that Liran had said hat he had heard over the radio from the commander that Amo is fine. Thank G‑d!

We thrive on any tidbit of information, yet I guess we have to assume that it's only normal that we won't hear much. We have been fortunate to be getting small doses of info lately.

Friday we had heard that three soldiers were injured in Jabaliya with light to moderate wounds. My brother in law Mendel Fishman called the hospitals to which they were evacuated and Amo was not of those listed. May all those injured have a speedy and complete recovery.

This morning I learned a chassidic discourse talking about the virtue of open miracles versus concealed miracles. It said that in addition to a miracle benefiting those in need, it also serves as a revelation of G‑dliness in the world. Since concealed miracles may be mistaken for nature, the greatest revelation of G‑dliness is through revealed miracles.

The newest headlines, "Hamas Fighters Beginning to Desert" are reminiscent of the Rebbe's words during the Yom Kippur war, quoting from the Torah (Deuteronomy): "They will flee from you in seven directions."

Amo we want you and the IDF to be successful and do your job, but we also want you home. Be safe, and certainly in the merit of all the mitzvot being done around the world we will continue to see miracles.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

I Lent Him a Buck

Friday, January 09, 2009, 1:20 pm

January 9, 2009 1:20 PM

Today we have not heard from Amo. It is now Shabbat in Israel, our prayers are with you and your team. Be safe.

The following is the text of the weekly Torah email sent out by Rabbi Yossy Gordon from Chabad on Campus:


BH

My friend Amo is a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces. I know him for many years and have seen him grow up into a man who understands how to meet a challenge head on.

Last week, I got a call telling me that Amo was heading into battle in Gaza. I picked up the phone and dialed his number. He answered. He was in his tent trying to rest. His unit was poised to strike and he was going to be in the first wave. As part of the elite Golani Brigade, he knew he was going to face danger and, as he put it, "There is going to a lot of noise."

We spoke for about ten minutes. We reviewed a Chassidic discourse that we had studied together some time ago that discusses two distinct approaches to teshuvah (repentance). One approach involves dealing with individual shortcomings similar to the way a doctor will treat a symptom. The other is to experience a transformation causing the shortcomings to no longer exist at the new higher level of being. As the Rebbe described the transforming Jew when he was reciting the discourse, "the challenges are no longer a concern because it is not him anymore, it is a new person."

My soldier friend told me how he is filled with faith and trust in the protection of the Almighty and that he knows that he isn't fighting for any strategic initiative. He is fighting to save Jewish lives. I realized that he had already been transformed into a Jewish soldier with an uncompromising zeal to fulfill his mission successfully and filled with absolute faith and trust in the protection of the Almighty.

When we saw each other not too long ago, I lent him a buck and made him promise to return it to me when he completed his tour in the IDF. Now I try to be frugal, but I certainly could afford to give someone a dollar. Let me share with you this dollar's uniqueness.

From the mid-eighties till mid 1992, the Rebbe would stand outside his office on Sundays for hours on end. People would pass by and receive a dollar and a blessing from him. Usually, the Rebbe's eyes would meet the recipient's for a moment, and as he would give the dollar the Rebbe would say, "Blessings and success!"

The dollar was a means of the Rebbe encouraging his visitors to perform the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity) and a conduit for his blessing. The custom was to save the actual dollar from the Rebbe and give its value to tzedakah, using other funds.

I have a collection of dollars that I received from the Rebbe. I always keep one in my wallet. We know that every interaction with the Rebbe continues to be a source of blessings. How much more so when the interaction involves the Rebbe giving a physical object of value and an actual verbal blessing! All that holiness and blessing is in that dollar.

I lent a dollar from the Rebbe to Amo because I wanted to give him the special protection for him and his comrades that comes with it. He took it, looked me in the eye and promised to return it—and I know he will.

Go, Amo, go!

Friends, please say a special prayer and make every effort to increase in acts of kindness and goodness and adherence to our holy Torah as a means of influencing the Almighty to protect Avraham Meir ben Leah Naomi and all of the brave soldiers of the IDF. May He grant them a speedy and safe victory. "The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!"

Personal Note: I struggled with the decision of whether to write this for many hours. For some reason, I am uncomfortable sharing this personal aspect of a dear friendship that I enjoy with this truly inspiring young man. If those who read will be inspired to do something good, then the decision will have certainly been made correctly.

May G‑d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom!! L'Chaim!!! Chazak!!!!

Rabbi Yossy Gordon,
Executive Vice-President
Chabad on Campus International Foundation

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

His Tone was Serious

Thursday, January 08, 2009, 9:32 a.m.

January 8, 2009 9:32 AM

We just got word from someone who spoke to Amo.

He said that Amo's tone was very serious but he was in high spirits, he sounded strong and very much in soldier mode. He talked briefly about the fighting, saying that it was really intense. He was very worried about the two boys who were hit from his team, one was hit with shrapnel in the eye. He asked that we say Psalms for them. He spoke briefly about some of his real combat experiences and accomplishments.

He said, "Make sure to tell the family and Mom that I love everyone and miss everyone, I am doing what has to get done and I'm really happy to be here, happy to be doing this… we are now on the outskirts of a city and awaiting permission to go in."

He indicated that every few nights they let certain groups go back to base to catch some sleep but didn't know when his turn would come.

Today, Amo's roommates in Israel have taken it upon themselves to have all the mezuzahs checked to make sure they are kosher—including the ones on the door to Amo's room.

Many of Amo's and Levi's friends in Israel have being putting together supplies, extra gear and packages for them and their unit members and will be heading to Gaza border as soon as they find a way to get the stuff through to Amo and Levi in the field.

G‑d bless you all. And, from the family back here, we really appreciate what you're doing. Keep up the mitzvot and we will hear good news!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Thinking of You

Thursday, January 08, 2009, 5:30 a.m.

January 8, 2009

Amo, you have to see the amount of support you have here back home.

We haven't heard anything from you yesterday. From the reports its sounds like the soldiers' morale is high and they are moving quickly and efficiently in Gaza. I am not sure if you got a break yet and I called your friends in Israel and they too haven't been able to get any reports.

We are all thinking about you and as soon as we speak (which I hope will be very soon) I will read to you all the mitzvot and letters the students here are writing.

Yesterday, Chabad.org and Lubavitch Youth Organization of Israel teamed up to encourage people to write to the soldiers and take on mitzvot on their behalf. Chana Weisberg from Chabad.org connected me with Yossi Swerdelov, an English speaking contact at LYO in Israel, who is delivering these letters to soldiers on the front lines. Additionally I am faxing them to the Ohel, the Rebbe's resting place, every day, along with a letter asking for blessings for you, Levi, and the rest of the soldiers.

We love you. Be safe!

P.S. To those reading these words, please take out your Psalms and pray for Avraham Meir ben Leah Naomi, Levi Yitzchok ben Margalit and the rest of the soldiers.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

The Rebbe and Amo

Wednesday, January 07, 2009, 9:51 a.m.

January 7, 2009 9:51 AM

Amo, I talk about you all day! I talk to the teens at CYN (Chabad Youth Network) all about what you're doing, I tell them about your rigorous training and the strength and phenomenal faith in G‑d you and your boys exemplify.

My mother-in-law related to me the following:

"I want to share with you an inspiring incident that comes to mind.

"When Avraham Meir was four years old, we took the family to the Rebbe to receive dollars for charity and blessings. The day was hot, the line was long, but we patiently and eagerly awaited our turn. When it finally came, we all filed by, fixated our gaze on the Rebbe and excitedly received our dollars.

"But our most vivid memory of that trip was from the day before, when my husband took the children to wait outside the Rebbe's room, as the Rebbe emerged for the afternoon prayers. With all the children clustered around, the Rebbe walked out of his room, and spotted Avraham Meir. Then, with a smile on his face, the Rebbe swung his arm in a grand gesture, to which Avraham Meir responded with a big grin.

"We never really understood what that was all about, but I would like to think that the Rebbe is swinging his arm with Amo right now in Gaza.

"May he, Levi, and all our brave boys return unharmed—and victorious!"

Four year old Amo receiving a dollar from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.
Four year old Amo receiving a dollar from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Lirom Said They Are Okay

Tuesday, January 06, 2009, 12:15 p.m.

January 6, 2009 12:15 PM

This morning I woke up to see an inbox full of emails from people writing what they are doing in the merit of the soldiers. (I will post some soon.)

At about 11:00 this morning we heard from a friend of Amo's in Israel who spoke to a former roommate of his (a local Thornhiller) whose brother Lirom Elimelech (Thornhill) is in Amo's Unit. Lirom said they are okay.

We are all looking at the news and you can already hear the undertones of a ceasefire. It really comes along with mixed feelings. On the one hand we all want Amo, Levy and the rest of them back home and out of harm's way, yet on the other hand they are there for a reason and they put themselves on the line to protect the nation of Israel—and if that hasn't been accomplished…

My son Avremel just called me as he got off from school early due to the fast of the 10th of Tevet. He asked if he can go with me to afternoon prayers because his teacher, Rabbi Serebranski told all the children that they have to do an extra mitzvah today. Avremel also told me that when they said Psalms in class, Rabbi Serebranski showed the class a picture of Amo from when he was in first grade.

On a side note, Amo I hope you and your unit gets a break soon, like to wash your face, shower, brush your teeth—that kind of stuff.

Call us when you do.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Think Positive

Monday, January 05, 2009, 10:57 p.m.

January 5, 2009 10:57 PM

"Three IDF soldiers killed by errant tank shell in Strip," was just reported by Jpost.com. According to reports, these soldiers were from Golani's 13th Battalion (Amo's team).

Let us continue to pray that those injured should have a speedy recovery and this should be the last of such news.

The Rebbe often quoted a saying of the Chabad Rebbes, "Tracht gut vet zein gut...Think positively, and you will see positive results."

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Mitzvot for Soldiers

Monday, January 05, 2009, 6:18 p.m.

January 5, 2009 6:18 PM

Today some students were back for Torah 4 Teens from their vacation. I spoke to them all about you, Amo, and what you're doing. We spoke a lot about the legitimacy of the war and how Israel has a duty to defend itself.

It was funny... I was speaking for like a half hour about the kind of battle it is on the ground, some of things you told me about the other Duvdevan units, your training in Maglan, Golani and the selflessness, bravery and dedication it takes to do what you're doing. Suddenly a student pipes in and says, "Well, doesn't he get paid for it? And besides, I thought it's mandatory!"

It was then that I realized that I missed out a small detail. This brother-in-law of mine doesn't live and wasn't born in Israel—he is a born and raised Canadian, as a matter of fact him and his friend are both from Thornhill!! They don't need the shekels—if they did they would get a better paying job here.

They all gasped and asked almost at once, "So why did he go?"

This is Amo, like the many others who joined from various Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora… BECAUSE THE JEWISH NATION IS ONE!

Amo, they promised to do mitzvot in your merit and the merit of all those with you. I told them that when I speak to you next, if you don't have internet service I will read to you the comments to this post with their special notes and resolutions. I hope that will be soon.

Be good!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Mask"t Tash (Mother of Unit)

Monday, January 05, 2009, 12:53 p.m.

January 5, 2009 12:53 PM

Today, a friend of Amo's was in touch with the "Mask"t Tash" (something like that) – the mother of the unit – and, from our understanding here, when there is any news concerning a soldier in her unit she is made aware. She had no news to share with us concerning Amo. With all the reports of hand to hand combat trickling in through the headlines – like "Lone Golani soldier fights gunmen…" – no news in definitely good news.

As of now, the understanding we have from talking to former soldiers is that any break they will have, if any, will be some short hours of sleep while they are supported by other units. But there is no likelihood of them getting any real rest or returning to base.

The overflow of people messaging on Facebook and expressing their prayers and concern is overwhelming. I got a call this morning from an old friend, Brian Belmont, formerly from Toronto and now lives in Israel, who had heard that Amo was in the battle, and told me how united the Jews are in Israel and that in Modiin they are praying as well.

Last night, Yong Israel of Oak Park held a prayer service for the soldiers and my mother made sure to mention Amo and Levi amongst all the others who they prayed for.

From the news now it sounds like the battle is intensifying, which means we must intensify our efforts. I will be speaking to all my Torah 4 Teens students in class today and in the days to follow and will ask them each for a mitzvah they will take on for you—Amo, Levi and the rest of the crew.

Be safe!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Rally at Chabad Gate

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 9:06 p.m.

January 4, 2009 9:06 PM

This afternoon at 4:00, a rally led by Rabbi Baruch Zaltzman was held at Chabad Gate for two alumni of the Cheder Day School, Amo and Levy Mogolevsky. The rally was reminiscent of the children's rallies I remember from my childhood years, in the presence of the Rebbe. The children livened the afternoon prayers with song, and it was followed by the recitation of the "12 Pesukim" and Psalms.

The rabbi of the community, Rabbi Dovid Schochet, spoke and recounted a story about the Baal Shem Tov which demonstrates the power of a positive attitude and joy. He explained how through joy we can break through all boundaries. He also mentioned that when the Rebbe gave blessings to representatives from various communities, he referred to them by their city—i.e. this is for Montreal, this is for Toronto, etc. Likewise, he said, these two alumni who have excelled and dedicated themselves to protect Israel, take the ideals of love for their fellow Jews that they gained growing up here in Toronto. They are a pride and representation of the Greater Toronto community. He also said how their selfless dedication and faith is a merit for the community they represent, while, at the same time, the mitzvot done here by the community on their behalf brings them safety, and increases the safety and security of all of Israel.

There were refreshments and raffle tickets for the children, and a video of the Rebbe entitled Peace Upon the Land.

Amo and Levy, the whole community is proud of you and praying for your success! The place was packed—they had to enlarge the room by opening up the sliding doors and more ladies had to go upstairs. You both have dedicated your minds and hearts to a selfless and courageous mission, and, as Rabbi Schochet mentioned, it demonstrates your true love for your fellow Jews and your incredible faith. May G‑d be with you!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Am Yisroel Chai

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 2:52 p.m.

January 4, 2009 2:52 PM

I gotta go get some work done, so I go to the office. I pull up and am getting my bag out of the car and a guy drives by and shouts at me "AM YISROEL CHAI!" I gave him a big "Amen!" Not sure who he was, but he sure knows what I'm thinking.

I get into the office and my mother-in-law calls to tell me that that they heard from a liaison on the field that all is okay, but Amo cannot text, email or call right now.

I also just got an email from Rabbi Yossy Gordon talking about his conversation with Amo last Thursday:

"He was full of faith and enthusiasm. He told me that his entire unit is going in with their tzitzit and tefillin and he has a good commander whom he trusts. He knows it is going to be "noisy" but he also knows it isn't for some strategic initiative. It is life and death. The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps! Chazak!"

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Go For Coffee

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 1:21 p.m.

January 4, 2009 1:21 PM

I called Chana Weisberg to thank her for the beautiful article she wrote, it is so heartwarming seeing fellow community members reach out and do their part in an effort to inspire more good deeds being done on behalf of our nation and land.

You can read her article on our site, which is hosted by Chabad.org, at this link.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

My Maccabee

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 11:30 a.m.

January 4, 2009 11:30 AM

I stopped at my father in law's house for no good reason—that's not a joke just a fact... I wasn't there for the weekend, so I thought I'll stop in to make sure everything is okay. As usual, Grandpa is on three phone calls and online as well. He was also looking through the websites. I took the mouse and showed him the picture. He was in tears, "… My Avraham Meir… you gotta be proud of him, look at my Maccabee..."

He told me that the unit which Amo's friend Levi is in, also on the front line, didn't have the proper gear for the cold—so they were working on Thursday and got them all thermal socks and other stuff they didn't have. "What about Amo's unit?" I asked "Is there anything they don't have?" He said that last they heard from Amo, they were all taken care of.

Then Sara, my sister-in-law, calls. She told me how all night they were calling the different hospitals in Israel trying to determine if anything had happened to Amo. It's hard to know anything now. You read the news and hear a soldier is injured; some lightly, some more serious, and now we just got news that a soldier has been killed. How many families are worried like us? It is the Nation of Israel together. We pray for all the soldiers out there in the field. Be safe chevrah.

Right now it's especially difficult as Amo cannot call or communicate at all with anyone.

We hope to hear from him soon.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Amo, It’s You!

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 9:40 a.m.

January 4, 2009 9:40 AM

I woke early to the baby crying and, although half asleep, went to check the news. When the kids got up they asked me what were those pictures on the computer. I explained to them that there is a war going on and Amo is in it, he is fighting the people who are trying to hurt the Nation of Israel and sending rockets into the Land of Israel.

They asked me what we can do, I said we can say Psalms. Avremel quickly ran and got one and started saying Amo's chapter – the one for his age, number 23 – and Tzippy, who doesn't really read Psalms yet, started saying the Psalms she knows by heart from school. Then I see them taking change and giving charity. Yep, the kids know what to do; they don't waist time online, they get straight to the point...

It's time to take Avremel to school, and for one last time I say that I want to see if there is any news, I get onto Jpost and I almost jumped for joy. I look again, and then call Chani over. "Chani, look at his nose, his lip... Man, that's AMO! Oh my G‑d. I miss you man, I hope you're okay out there."

Seeing him in full gear reminded me of what he told me Thursday, when he was saying how he doesn't know what will be: "I don't know, maybe I will have to jump on an explosive to save others, maybe I will have to carry a friend..."

I looked at him there and I just hope and pray that G‑d is with him and all his friends. "Be safe, Amo. Come back and tell me all about that gear you are so proud of." I emailed the picture to family members and posted it on Facebook.

Wow, I guess that is what I was looking for. Off to school.

The AP photo of Amo that I found on Jpost
The AP photo of Amo that I found on Jpost

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Highway 402

Sunday, January 04, 2009, 3:30 a.m.

January 4, 2009 3:30 AM

Following Shabbat, my father made Havdalah. "Hamavdil bein or lichoshech," He who separates between light and darkness... How we all yearn for the day which will be all light; light for everyone, even those who live in darkness now and see no light, see no spirituality and thrive on darkness. At that time, when Moshiach comes, the light will be from G‑d – no right, no left, no enemies and haters – and no one will be able to challenge it.

Right after Havdalah I checked the news, every news outlet that is. I think I checked about thirty websites looking for news, looking for something—I'm not sure what it was I was looking for. I guess I wanted to hear or see some news that would calm me. They were all the same, reporting slowly, and I know they are hours behind the real action. So I got back to what I had to do and packed up my family, said goodbye to my parents, and we were on the road, back to Toronto.

The road conditions were good and the 402 highway was clean from snow. Each time I passed an open area of farmland I thought: "It's dark out, look at this large space of land, trees, mud—this is probably the type of terrain Amo is in right now..."

Then I heard a reporter from Fox talk about the size of Gaza being like Washington, D.C. And as we came across the bridge to Canada I saw all the lights of the border city Sarnia and I thought, "Look at that city, imagine having to do combat with terrorists in a city like that... This is outrageous." In short, I couldn't get my mind off what was going on.

We arrived home late, and after settling in I set out to search for photos online on all the news outlets. I am looking, and now I know what I am looking for: a picture, a video, something, some news... I have to say that I was a bit frightened by the claims made by Hamas at about 3:30 a.m., but, to my relief, the Israeli Army quickly denied those claims and explained how that was all part of the psychological warfare.

I am gonna try and get some sleep...

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

My Cell Rings on Shabbat

Saturday Night, January 03, 2009, 6:30 p.m.

January 3, 2009 6:30 PM

Shabbat was hard, my mother-in-law called and divided up the Psalms amongst the family; we knew from Amo that the operation was meant to start anytime now. We also knew that by the time Shabbat was out, we probably would not be able to reach Avraham Meir. We were in Detroit for Shabbat, celebrating with my brother and sister-in-law the birth and circumcision of their baby boy. Shabbat was hard; the talk at the Shabbat table was, of course: did they go in, will they go in, should they go in… Obviously the only thing on our minds and in our prayers was that they should all be well.

I come home from synagogue on Shabbat afternoon, and my sister tells me that my cell was ringing while I was away. Now my mind started to work... Well, Amo knows I wouldn't answer the phone even if I saw his number on caller ID, so why would he call? Or maybe it wasn't him at all? Maybe it was him knowing I wouldn't answer, but he still want to leave a message… and why would he call anyhow?

Well, for now, the only thing we can do is say Psalms and pray.

On Shabbat afternoon my cousin Davy came over to my parents' house. His two brothers-in-law are in the Golani brigade and his wife had been in touch with her family and knew that they went in. He said they already hit 30 terrorists and no reported casualties.

Now the reality hit home they had gone on Saturday night Israeli time.

Amo, I hope you're okay... You're out there in the dark, you told me about an area that needed to be conquered first by foot, have you passed that? Is there resistance? Hey, you're such a kid how can you be out there with all the guns and fighters in the dark, in the bush. How do you have this strength? You surprise me Avraham Meir, I always knew you were Mr. Tough Guy, but I never took it for real, I still say I can take you out. But you're there, you're on the ground, one of the first guys in.

I said to my wife Chani, "I hate to sound like one of those who have to learn only when it hits home, but if we don't learn even then, we missed the opportunity. How many mothers, siblings, brothers-in-laws have gone through this? Now I feel their pain."

And although one side of me says, "Get Amo on the first plane home!", another side says, "He is doing what is right and should never leave. Once and for all a stop has to come to this, a time when parents will no longer worry, a time without these terrorist firing rockets at families. Go get them get rid of these terrorist so more mothers can sleep at night. May G‑d be with you."

We now needed to wait a few more hours until the end of Shabbat to hear the news or get online, but we knew it's for real. Chani took out her Psalms and started praying. We all shared the concern that G‑d protect our boys and keep them all safe.

As soon as Shabbat was out, I ran downstairs to check my cell. Turns out it was someone from Toronto who was having some serious issues with his teenaged son. Not to diminish the crisis, but to some degree I was relieved...

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Cheder Chabad Alumni

Friday, January 02, 2009, 10:35 a.m.

January 2, 2009 10:35 AM

Here is an email I received from Rabbi B. Zaltzman:

* * *

By the Grace of G‑d

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have established strength, in order to put an end to enemy and avenger"—Psalms 8:3.

Our dear brothers and sisters are fighting for the safety of the nation of Israel and the Land of Israel

WE CAN & MUST HELP!!

"If not for King David's Torah study, Joab could not have been successful in battle; and if not for Joab, David could not have studied Torah"—Talmud Sanhedrin 49.

Cheder Chabad Day School invites the community to unite in a "Hakhel" Gathering of Torah, prayer and charity, for the success and safe return home of our dear and beloved alumni

Avrohom M. ben Leah Naomi Ostfeld &

Levi Y. ben Margalit Mogilevsky

and all of our dear soldiers.

Sunday 4:00 p.m. @ 770 Chabad Gate

Men, women and children of all ages

Afternoon prayers at 4:00 followed by the rally

Refreshments and charity sponsored by the families.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Chana Weisberg

Friday, January 02, 2009, 10:00 a.m.

January 2, 2009 10:00 AM

I just got a call from Chana Weisberg, an editor and writer for Chabad.org. She spoke to my mother-in-law about the situation and wants to write a bit about it in her blog.

My mother-in-law has no head for this, her one concern of course is sitting and saying Psalms, but told Chana that if it means more people will do mitzvot or pray, then she'd be glad to oblige. Chana was very nice and sensitive to the situation and I am sure she will inspire many with her blog posting.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Shabbat Dinner

Friday, January 02, 2009, 9:00 a.m.

January 2, 2009 9:00 AM

The weather is bad, Amo said, and the decision was made to wait. He sounded great for many reasons, one that they had just received intelligence briefings which were very revealing and encouraging to the foot soldiers. The intelligence along with the other factors were the purpose of them waiting, as I understood from him.

He was also very happy once they were briefed on the details of the operation and how it was going to work. It sounded like the IDF was not sparing anything in protecting its soldiers, the helicopters, etc…

But his greatest excitement of all: "We are going to be able to have a proper Shabbat meal first before going in!" I know that Amo loves all the salads at the first course of the Shabbat meal and can eat like a soldier anytime of day or night... but this was different. The excitement was from the ability to have those moments of unity with his comrades prior to the mission starting.

I have never been to a Shabbat dinner at an army base and certainly not one with soldiers awaiting final orders for mission such as this. I can only imagine the prayers, singing, emotions and brotherhood at that Shabbat table...

Man, Amo, you're the man! You make me proud!

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

The Ohel

Friday, January 02, 2009, 4:37 a.m.

January 2, 2009 4:37 AM

I got an email from my father-in-law that Rabbi Altein in New York will be going to the Ohel, the Rebbe's resting place, along with renowned Chassidic mentor Rabbi Yoel Kahan, to pray for Levi Yitzchok ben Margalit and Avraham Meir ben Leah Naomi. He also wrote how Avraham Meir asked him to mention that both he and Levi Yizchok learned in the Lubavitch Yeshivah of Tomchei Tmimim. Amo also asked if possible that Psalms be said tonight in the Rebbe's room.

In addition to the blessings I am sure they will receive, let us all add a mitzvah and a prayer on their behalf and on behalf of all of Israel and all the soldiers in the line of duty.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Be Strong Amo!

Thursday, January 01, 2009, 4:30 p.m.

January 1, 2009 4:30 PM

As many thoughts are racing through my mind, I focus on just one. What can encourage and help Amo NOW?

I called Yisroel Wilhelm, Eli Freedman and Yossi Gordon – all good friends of Amo – and asked them to contact him. They all then called him and gave him words of encouragement. (I told them not to call too late as he has to get to sleep tonight!)

I know it meant so much to him because he called me to tell me so. He was like, "Yoo, Shmuli, those guys are the best; they have no idea how much it meant to me that they called! Tell Yisroel I was short with him on the phone, I had to hang up on him, so I didn't have a chance to thank him enough for calling.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Glued to My Computer

Thursday, January 01, 2009, 12:45 p.m.

January 1, 2009 12:45 PM

I then started working on a Mitzvah Campaign page, I wanted to get as many people to do mitzvot, pray and do whatever they can on behalf of the soldiers. I sat down for two hours working on a web page which would host mitzvot that people can select in honor of the soldiers. I then got in touch with Chabad.org and they said they were working on a campaign as well so I'm gonna wait and see what they put together.

I called Amo again and asked him, "If we get all kinds of people doing things can I email it to you and your unit to read? You should know how many people are thinking about you and praying for you!"

He said that now that would be great, but once they go in he doesn't think he'll be able to get any emails. I then asked about texting him, but he told me the same thing: once he moves in he will have to shut off his phone.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Facebook

Thursday, January 01, 2009, 12:25 p.m.

January 1, 2009 12:25 PM

I felt like we have to do something, we can't just sit back. In the meantime, I guess will send something out on Facebook, get a Mitzvah campaign going.

Here is a copy of what I sent out:

Certainly everyone is aware of what is transpiring in our Holy Land.

The Israeli Defense Forces are involved in a major confrontation in Southern Israel.

Currently the IDF is preparing for a ground assault into Gaza. Two members of our local Chabad community in Toronto will be at the head of this invasion. They are my brother-in-law Avraham Meyer ben Leah Naomi Ostfeld and his friend Levy Yitzchok ben Margalit Mogilevsky.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, taught us that, yes, there is something we can do, though we are thousands of miles away.

CYN (Chabad Youth Network of Toronto) will be launching a special initiative for the safety and security of the IDF and our brethren living in Israel. We will keep you posted on this initiative.

In the meantime a new section put together in the past 48 hours addressing the situation in Gaza can be found on our website.

The section includes news, video, personal stories, "call to action," a paratrooper's text-message updates from the front, and more.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.

Sobering Moments

Thursday, January 01, 2009, 11:00 a.m.

January 1, 2009 11:00 AM

Amo is calling everyone! All soldiers in the unit were told to call home and spend at least half hour on the phone. For Amo, well it was more like three hours—he was never short on words and was in no way content until he spoke to everyone: parents, siblings and even my six year old son Avremel.

Avremel asked him, "Where are you going and what are you doing?" Amo answered, "I am gonna catch the bad guys and put them in jail!"

It was a sobering phone call. He said he didn't know when the next time we would speak would be. He said that he sees so clearly how this is divine providence, for he had originally trained in a different unit, and that unit is stationed in the North. And now, due to so many little details, he now finds himself in the South, at the frontlines, and from the first 100 troops poised to enter Gaza.

The excitement and tone was a 180 degree turn from the day before. The command was in, and the mode changed amongst all the soldiers. He spoke about his holy books, Psalms, and dollar from the Rebbe which he is carrying with him wherever he goes. He spoke about his belief in what he is doing, and how we have to protect our fellow Jewish people. He had no fear in his voice, and his only concern was to be able to talk to everyone, his family and friends, and tell them how much he loved them and what he was doing.

He was ready as ever, and also spoke about his unit and how great a team they were. He had no idea what the next few days might bring. His commander had sobered them all up and spoke of the dreadful possibility of having to carry one of his fellow soldiers in his arms. He did mention that his greatest concern was hitting a mine, but felt good that the army was giving them an open hand to use all the techniques they had at their disposal.

You know I sit here and type this all, how "he said, he said, he said," but to be honest it was great listening to him and I cherished every minute. Listening to him was kind of soothing to me.

"Avraham Meir," I said, "you make us sooo proud. We love you, and you are lucky that G‑d has chosen you as His shliach (emissary) to do this work. He chose you to be there to protect His nation..." I have to say it was hard to hold back the tears, not knowing when we would speak to him again.

"I know this is my mission," he said, "as G‑d placed me all the way here—I don't believe that he wanted me to come all the way and…" and I then gave the phone to Chani.

Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.
Some know my brother-in-law as Avraham Meir Ostfeld, but we call him Amo. He’s a member of the IDF, serving in an elite Golani brigade, and currently part of the Gaza operation.

The following are some notes I’ve jotted in recent days—my family’s communications with Amo, our feelings, and the various activities the Toronto community has undertaken in his merit.

If these words inspire you to do a mitzvah or pray for Avraham Meir ben Leah Naomi Ostfeld – along with all the courageous members of the IDF, and all our brethren in the Holy Land – then they have not been written in vain!
Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas is the director of the Chabad Youth Network in Thornhill, Ontario.
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