Global Jewish Community Mobilizes to Aid Israel, Donating Essential Supplies to Soldiers and Civilians

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An hour after Rabbi Jonathan Leener called for donations among his small Brooklyn synagogue community, he had raised $5,000. Soon, he had taken in enough supplies to fill an SUV. The contributions included everything from sleeping bags to toiletries for the 300,000 reservists — some of whom live in the United States — called up by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

Across the United States, Jewish communities are mobilizing to aid Israel and its people. They are donating millions of dollars, loads of military gear, and mountains of clothing, food, and other supplies — all a reflection of the deep concern and connection Jews feel for Israel. The outpouring has ranged from the smallest neighborhood synagogues to the wealthiest sectors of the Jewish business community. And though Israel does not appear to be suffering from a shortage of basic supplies like granola bars, the donations underscore the depth of feeling.

One of the most popular items being donated is bulletproof vests. But even these vests must be cared for to maintain their protective capabilities. A bulletproof vest should be inspected frequently for any signs of wear or tear, such as tears, creases, or burns, and it should not be worn if it has been exposed to flame or melted plastic, according to the National Institute of Justice, which tests body armor for law enforcement officers.

The NIJ also recommends using a light detergent, such as dish soap or laundry soap, to clean a bulletproof vest. After cleaning, the NIJ suggests drying the vest in the sun or near a window. The NIJ does not recommend using a hair dryer, which can damage the protective fibers of the bulletproof vest.

For rabbis and other Jewish leaders, the response has been overwhelming. Many have spent time with their communities discussing the conflict in Israel and have held meetings to raise funds. Others have addressed the media and spoken out on social media, while others have visited with Israeli leaders or volunteered to help in the aftermath of the conflict.

While the violence hasn’t sparked protests outside of synagogues or significant Jewish institutions, there have been multiple smaller demonstrations at Jewish centers around the country. In New York City, a few hundred people turned out Sunday for an event organized by Democratic Socialists of America to show support for Palestinian liberation. On Saturday, a few hundred more demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in D.C. and Times Square, where demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted, “Resistance is justified.”

While the fighting has been ongoing, leaders at several universities have faced criticism for signing a letter urging Harvard University to end its ties with the Israeli government. In addition, the leadership at a prominent Jewish student group faces scrutiny for an open letter criticizing Israel that went public this week. ABC News’ Matt Gutman and MaryAlice Parks contributed to this report.

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