Credit: iStock, Ingo Dörenberg

By Cheri F. Rosen

After 15 years in East Boca Raton, I moved this past August. I now reside in the beautiful Boynton Beach development known as “The Club.” Immediately after October 7, Orthodox communities in South Florida (as I’m sure was the case in Orthodox communities all over the world) began having regular Tehillim groups for the soldiers and the hostages. Here, in The Club, several wonderful women (Shout out to Wendy and Ruthy) arrange to have a weekly Shabbos Tehillim group which often features a speaker of some renown.

Several weeks ago, in honor of the yahrzeit of my father, Michoel ben Shmuel, of blessed memory, I chose to sponsor the Tehillim meeting. I spoke very briefly (less than a minute or two) about my father growing up in the notorious Hebrew Orphans’ Asylum in Newark, New Jersey during the Depression. As the fifth child in his family, at the age of six, my father and his little sister, Mary, were removed from their home after the untimely passing of my grandfather, resulting from that century’s pandemic. My six-year-old father and three-year-old aunt spent the following decade as “Orphans of the Living.”

I mentioned at the Tehillim group one quick story regarding the fact that my father, because of his living conditions, never owned a pair of socks from the age of 6 until he was over 18 years old.

That quick anecdote became immediately and incredibly poignant to me as the featured speaker was then introduced as the truly amazing Yakir Weinstock of “Boots for Israel” fame.

Yakir, as instantly likable as he is exceptionally humble, began explaining to the gathering his personal history. He explained how as an occupational therapist working in various yeshivot, the mandatory schools’ shutdown resulting from COVID forced him to find other means of supporting his family. So, he began a quick trial by fire while setting up a website for selling on Amazon. This appears to be totally min haShamayim as it prepared him well, it seems, to fulfill his ordained purpose in the Hamas war.

One night at 1 a.m. Yakir was awakened by a phone call from General Jacob of the IDF reservists. The general was told to contact Yakir as he was informed that Yakir sold products on Amazon and that Yakir would know how to procure tactical army boots. In fact, Yakir, while trying to keep his family financially afloat as schools remained closed, resorted to selling Barbie dolls and houseware items on Amazon. Certainly not boots!

Nevertheless, as Yakir was made to understand the urgency and necessity for decent boots for the IDF, he became committed to this essential cause. The current issue of IDF boots were substandard at best with few sizes and not more than a month’s durability.

Ever resourceful, Yakir thought of his friend, Avi Shakarov, who davens in the same shul, the Young Israel of Holliswood, where Yakir serves as the president. Avi works as a wholesale footwear vendor on Amazon. Coincidentally (if one believes that there are coincidences in life) when Yakir called Avi and relayed the conversation he had with the general, Avi shocked Yakir with the news that he had just posted a whole shipment of army-grade tactical boots on Amazon, which he was planning to sell to hunters in the Western United States! Avi offered to immediately take the post down. Shortly after receiving approval from the general, Avi donated the entire shipment to the IDF.

Thus began Boots for Israel!

To date almost 40,000 pairs of boots have been sent to both our male and female chayalim!

Boots for Israel is a totally volunteer-based initiative and funding comes from fundraising in many dimensions. There are no salaries. All monies go only to what is needed to procure boots and send them over to the soldiers.

Of course, more and more people, young and old, are eager to help Yakir in any way that they are able. Help comes in many forms. The volunteers pack the boots, tag the boots, pick the boots up from warehouses, drive them to holding places and then to the airport, find passengers to fly with the boots, write notes to put in the boots, and of course fundraise to buy more and more boots.

The gathering of women in my community’s Tehillim group became overwhelmed by what this one modest man had accomplished in the past few months. Many members offered their services in various ways. As for me, Yakir had me as soon as he informed us that every single boot had at least one pair of thermal socks inside. Tonight, as I finish this article, my boots are on their plane to Israel, each pair packed with thermal socks and special letters written to the chayalim from my grandchildren in memory of my dad. Thank you, Yakir and tizku l’mitzvot.

For contact information, please see the copy of the flyer on this page.

 

Cheri F. Rosen, of Lang Realty, has been a REALTOR® in South Florida since moving to Boca Raton over a decade ago. You can learn more about real estate in South Florida by calling Cheri at 561-221-2233 or visiting Cheri’s website: southfloridacondosandhouses.com or just Google the words Orthodox Boca. Cheri’s website is the top search result. Submit your personal questions and concerns to Cheri, and they will be answered personally, or anonymously in future columns.

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