In anticipation of her nephew’s bar mitzvah in January, Tehilla Mostofsky bought tickets to Israel last July. Along with her husband, Sholom, and her parents, who had not been to Israel in 25 years, she planned to stay for five days to celebrate with her family.
The events of October 7 might have upended these plans, but Mostofsky’s sister and family were not deterred. “Israel needs the support of tourists and the international community,” Mostofsky says.
While the bar mitzvah was the impetus for the trip, Israel’s war with Hamas remained in the forefront. Before departure, Mostofsky shopped at eight Walmarts so she could fill a suitcase with 800 packets of hot cocoa – a request of Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Another suitcase contained Montreal Seasoning, a staple for barbeques serving these same soldiers.
A one-day “war tour,” led by Ephraim Schwartz, a founder of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel, led to volunteer opportunities. A man in Beit Shemesh, a town 12 miles west of Jerusalem, gave up his day job to produce beef jerky with Beef Up Our Boys. IDF soldiers need protein, and this operation, funded completely by donations, produces and vacuum-packs the beef jerky. As part of the volunteer staff, Mostofsky included notes in each package, sending love and support from Tidewater’s Jewish community.
Later that same day, Tehilla and Sholom Mostofsky delivered 30 pizzas to an army base and spent time with soldiers who are living in shipping containers.
Included in the war tour was The NOVA 6.29 exhibit in Tel Aviv, named for the exact time on October 7 when rockets began falling on the music festival. Mostofsky says she found the exhibit to be extremely emotional and hard to see.
At Hostage Square, also in Tel Aviv, the Mostofkys met the nephew of a hostage. “He felt appreciative that Americans are coming for support,” says Mostofsky. “Israelis need people to speak out.”
For additional information about Beef Up Our Boys, go to www.beefupourboys.com.