Photo Credit: Flash90

The past several days have been among the most difficult in Israel’s history. We look back to only a week or so ago when the news was filled with stories and images that challenged even our worst nightmares. On Simhat Torah we awoke in Israel to rumors of what had happened in the south, rumors that got worse and worse but we tried to convince ourselves that stories were lost or exaggerated in translation. Of course, at the end of Chag, when we had a chance to see the news and were confronted by those dreadful pictures and videos, we found little comfort.

There is palpable tension here even in the relative safety of Jerusalem. The uncertainty about so many things is always at the forefront of our minds. However, one thing of which we are certain, and something that provides moments of not just comfort, but of hope, is the response of the ordinary people of Israel to the difficult times in which we find ourselves.


Hundreds of thousands of men, without question and without hesitation, dropped what they were doing to answer the call and report for reserve duty. Equally, those at home and abroad who have shown incredible kindness and generosity to each other, to our soldiers, and to the country that we are so privileged to have. Every day we see stories of people from all walks of life, working together to do what we must to keep the country going. Lines round the block to donate blood, mountains of food, equipment, and clothing for the soldiers, thousands of families displaced from the South housed in mere minutes. We are reminded daily, despite it all, what an honor it is to be counted among Am Yisrael.

The Koren Jerusalem team is a beautiful collaboration of incredible people. Men and women, young and old, sabras and olim. As the current situation developed, over 20% of our staff were called up for reserve duty and are currently serving on the front lines, in elite units and at guard posts across the country, defending our people and our land. We could not be prouder of our colleagues and friends who have left their young families behind in service of our nation and we are inspired by their efforts to continue learning and spreading Torah in their units while under the most challenging of circumstances. For those who are not serving on the front lines, many of us, like myself, have children serving who are constantly in our thoughts and prayers, and those with young children are juggling their professional responsibilities with caring for their families and taking part in the many voluntary initiatives happening across the country.

One of the things that has resonated most deeply is the flood of requests that have come to us from soldiers on the front lines asking for help to arm them spiritually. Through our colleagues on the front lines, word has spread to units around Israel, of the Siddurim for Tzahal project which has been distributing thousands of siddurim, Chumashim, and Tehillim to those who need them.

Since last week we have been able to send dozens of boxes containing sifrei kodesh to soldiers from a cross section of Israeli society. We were uplifted and encouraged to hear of a unit who returned from a mission late on Friday night and were excited to find boxes of Koren Shabbat Chumashim waiting for them so that they could have Kabbalat Shabbat in the best possible way, albeit, later in the evening.

As parents, spouses, friends, and citizens, it is difficult not to feel powerless at a time like this. Those closest to us ran toward danger to protect us. Not just the people of Israel, but to show the world that the Jewish people are strong and will protect ourselves at all costs. To be able to provide our soldiers with the means to carry out their holy mission both physically and spiritually gives us great comfort in knowing that they feel protected. We thank our partners from around the world who contributed to this important and meaningful campaign.

The reality of what is happening here is difficult to put into words. At first it was difficult to muster a positive thought but as this dreadful war has progressed, we have seen more and more reasons for hope. Although we continue to pray for the injured, for the nearly two hundred hostages, and of course for the too many who have lost their lives, we draw strength from how Jews around the world have come together to support one another.

On behalf of all of us in Israel, thank you for your support from America. We draw so much strength from your messages of support and pray that we will see peace soon.

“The L-rd will give His people strength. The L-rd will bless His people with peace” (Tehillim 29:11).

To learn more about the Siddurim for Tzahal project, please visit


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Matthew Miller is publisher of Koren Jerusalem.