Fighting For Israel -

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 7-14
Group Size: 1-100
Estimated Time: 60 minutes

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Resource Goal
Chanichim should leave the peulah with the understanding of the importance of tzahal and what they fight for as well as the idea that one doesn't have to be wearing a soldier's uniform to be fighting for Israel.

Resource Contents

Noseh: Yom HaZikaron

Goal: Chanichim should leave the peulah with the understanding of the importance of tzahal and what they fight for as well as the idea that one doesnt have to be wearing a soldiers uniform to be fighting for Israel.

Chevraya: Aleph, Zach

Materials: Cards with random words for paper bag dramatics


Game #1:

Shabbat laser tag:

Group is divided into two teams. Each team goes to two opposite ends of the playing area. At each end a base is placed and a center line is decided upon to divide the playing area in half. The object of the game is for each team to get to the other teams base first. However once a member from either team crosses into the other teams area he can be tagged which freezes him in his place until he is unfrozen. (tagged by member of his own team.) The winning team is the first team to have one of its members reach the other teams base.

Variation: once you are tagged from someone from the other team you have to touch your base to recharge yourself (like in real laser tag).

Game #2:

Break the kids up into little groups. Give each group a paper bag full of different random words cut up. Such as: Old lady, Israeli flag, siddur, matzah ball, makolet man, brownies, folding chair, baby, elf, red light, gun, tank, uniform, falafel, Uzi, (beer), tanach, snoopy, zaidy, tefillin, snif. Then tell each group a scenario about tzahal. Each group has to put on a skit using this scenario and using at least 6 funny words from their paper bag. The group with the most creative skit wins.

Possible scenarios: soldiers on the battlefield, a soldier on shemira somewhere, soldiers on a spy mission in Aza, a soldier on guard at a bus station.

Sicha: What was the best way to win the first game? Was there any strategy to the winning team? Unless the teams were uneven, the team that won most probably had some sort of strategy. The best way to win the game (if they didnt figure it out, then just tell them) would be to have some players sacrifice themselves for the sake of the team. Obviously, each team would have like to have had all of its players by the end of the game. However, sometimes it does not always work out as planned, and some players need to give themselves up in order for the team to win. The same thing is true in the Israeli army, Tzahal. We would like to have every single soldier come back alive from any war or mission that they go on. However, unfortunately some soldiers die in battle, but their death is never in vain. They are soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the greater good, so Eretz Yisrael can be a safer place. Because of this, we must remember them and acknowledge their deeds. We must never forget those who perished while defending our country. In fact, that is why we have Yom Hazikaron, right before celebrating Yom Haatzmaut. There is a direct connection between the two days. The only reason we are able to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut is because of the soldiers who we remember on Yom Hazikaron.

Besides for fighting, are there any other ways we can help defend country? Possible answers: Sending care packages to soldiers, writing soldiers letters, etc. Even those who dont actually fight can become a part of Tzahal. Just by showing the soldiers that we care about them makes them happier and more dedicated soldiers. Therefore, it is important that we show as much support as possible to the soldiers in Eretz Yisrael.

In the second game, were all the props that were used things that would be used by a normal soldier? Probably not. For many other countries, the soldiers are people who live on an army base when they are on duty. Those who live in the cities with the rest of the people are not part of the army at all. The soldiers would never live at home when they are on duty. However, this is not the case with the soldiers in Israel. In Tzahal, most of the soldiers are regular civilians. They live in their houses until they are called into battle. One day they may be eating dinner at their table and the next day they may be fighting a battle for Am Yisroel. What is the advantage of forcing civilians to fight in the army? Well, when almost every civilian is fighting in the army, everyone feels like they are part of the nation. People feel much closer. Am Yisroel, therefore, becomes one unit. This is the only way we will exist as a nation in our land Am Echad BLev Echad.

Chevraya Zach

Game - Murder

The game is played in a circle. Every chanich closes his eyes and the madrich taps two people on the head. They are murderer #1 and murderer #2. The madrich then taps on a third chanichs head. This person is the spy. The madrich says murderer one please wake up and kill someone. Muderer #1 picks his head up and points to someone. Then he closes his eyes again. Then the same is done with murderer #2. Then the spy picks his head up and points to someone. The spy is trying to figure out who the murderers are. The madrich shakes his head yes or no to the spy depending on who the spy pointed to, to indicate whether the spy was correct or not. Then the madrich tells everyone to wake up. If both murderers pointed to the same person, then that person is dead and the madrich announces this to everyone. If they pointed to two different people, then no one dies. Now, everyone tries to figure out who the murderers are. Once everyone comes to a majority vote, the person they decided on has a chance to defend themselves. This usually goes on for a while with different kids defend themselves and each other or accusing others. If the group still thinks this is the murderer, they vote again and the person dies. Then everyone goes back to sleep and the game continues. Once one murderer has been killed, whomever the other murderer points to is dead. Once both murderers have died, the rest of the group wins. If the two murderers are the only ones left in the game, they win.

Sicha: After the game has been played, ask the chanichim who won the game, if the death of their fellow players made the game worth it. Most likely they will say that it was worth it, since they won the game because of it. This is not the case in Tzahal. Those who fought to defend our country and perished doing it are remembered on Yom Hazikaron. We remember those soldiers who gave their lives for the sake of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. We make sure that their deaths were not in vain.

Do you know of the American version of Yom Hazikaron? In fact, Memorial Day in May is the day of the calendar that is set aside for remembering those soldiers who fought for America. How many of you actually knew that before? How many of you ever went to a Tekes for Memorial Day? Most likely, very few chanichim ever went to any sort of ceremony for Memorial Day. Memorial Day in America has become more of a shopping day or an excuse to take off from work and go swimming. We do not agree with this mentality at all. In Israel, Yom Hazikaron is a very somber day on which people dress nicely and have ceremonies for those soldiers who fought and died for our country.

Story: The story of Nachshon Wachsman, as told by his mother, is moving and powerful. Prepare it beforehand and decide what you want to focus on, because its sort of long. Dont read it, tell it!

His Name was Nachshon Wachsman

By Esther Wachsman

After having served in the army for a little over a year, with two stints in
Lebanon, Nachshon came home on a week's leave, Friday, October 7, 1994 just before the Sabbath. On Saturday night, he got a call from the army informing him that the following day, Sunday, he was to attend a course up north, where he and another soldier from his unit would learn to operate a special military vehicle and in a one-day-course receive a license.

Nachshon found this offer very prestigious and got a ride with a friend to take the course up north. He left us late Saturday night and told us he would be back home the following night.

Nachshon did not come home on Sunday night.

Nachshon did not come home on Sunday night. Perhaps because of my background with over-protective parents, I felt that I must know where my children are, when to expect them home -- and they always notified me of any delay or change of plan.

When by
Nachshon did not call or arrive home, I feared the worst.

We notified the military authorities, we traced his movements, we spoke to his army friends. We discovered from one of them that he had been dropped off after completing the course at the Bnai Atarot junction -- one of the most populated areas in the center of Israel -- where he could either catch a bus or hitchhike (as all soldiers do) to Jerusalem. This friend was the last one to have seen him.

On Monday we sent search parties to the area where he had last been seen -- at this point the army was still unconcerned and more or less making inquiries at hotels and resorts in Eilat to see if he had just taken off.

The fact that I told them that such a thing was simply out of the question in my family just seemed to amuse them as the attitude of a typical Jewish mother. To me, on Monday, my child was dead.

On Tuesday, we were contacted by Israeli Television, who told us that they had received a video tape from a Reuters photographer showing my son being held hostage by Hamas terrorists. They said they were coming directly to our home to show us the video before broadcasting it to the entire nation, and the world.

On that video tape, Nachshon was seen, bound hand and foot .

On that video tape, Nachshon was seen, bound hand and foot, with a terrorist whose face was covered with a kaffiya, holding up Nachshon's identity card. The terrorist recited his home address, identity number, and then Nachshon spoke at gunpoint. He said that he had been kidnapped by the Hamas, who were demanding the release of their spiritual leader, Achmed Yassin, from an Israeli prison, as well as the release of 200 other imprisoned Hamas terrorists. If these demands were not met, he would be executed on Friday at

At that time I did not have the "luxury" of breaking down. We were all mobilized for the next four days, 24 hours a day, to do everything in our power to save our son's life. We spoke to Prime Minister Rabin, who informed us that he would not negotiate with terrorists, nor would he yield to blackmail. We announced Nachshon's American citizenship, and President Clinton intervened. Both Warren Christopher, who was in the area, and the U.S. consul in Jerusalem, Ed Abbington, went to Gaza -- where it was believed Nachshon was being held -- and brought us messages from Arafat.

Arafat, indeed, called our home and told us that he would leave no stone unturned to locate our son and return him to us safe and sound.

We appealed to world leaders everywhere and to Moslem religious leaders, all of whom stated unequivocally on the media that they must not harm our son.

And we appealed to our brethren -- to the Jewish people throughout the world -- and asked them to pray for our son. The Chief Rabbi of
Israel delegated three chapters of Psalms to be said every day, and people everywhere, including schoolchildren who had never prayed before, did so for the sake of one precious Jewish soul.

I asked women throughout the world to light an extra Sabbath candle for my son. From about 30,000 letters that poured into our home, I learned of thousands of women who had never lit Sabbath candles, who did so for the sake of our son -- who had become a symbol of everyone's son, brother, friend.

On Thursday night, 24 hours before the ultimatum, a prayer vigil was held at the Western Wall and, at the same hour, prayer vigils were held throughout the world in synagogues, schools, community centers, street squares and, yes, churches throughout the world. People of good faith everywhere hoped and pleaded and prayed for Nachshon.

At the Western Wall 100,000 people arrived, with almost no notice -- Chassidim in black frock coats and long side curls swayed and prayed and cried, side by side with young boys in torn jeans and ponytails and earrings. There was total unity and solidarity of purpose among us -- religious and secular, left wing and right wing, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, old and young, rich and poor -- an occurrence unprecedented in our sadly fragmented society.

On Friday night we ushered in the Sabbath, and I spoke to my son on the media and begged him to be strong, for all our people were with him. We sat rooted to our Sabbath table; my eyes were glued to the door, expecting
Nachshon to walk in at any moment.

We were not aware of the fact that Israeli Intelligence had captured the driver of the car that picked Nachshon up, that he had told our intelligence that the terrorists had all worn kippot, skull caps, that there were a Bible and Siddur on the dashboard, and Chassidic music playing on the tape deck, and an unsuspecting soldier got into the car.

We were not aware that they had discovered from their informant that Nachshon was being held in a village called Bir Nabbalah, under Israeli rule, located about 10 minutes from our home in Ramot. We were not aware that Prime Minister Rabin had made a decision to launch a military action to attempt to rescue our son.

At the hour of the ultimatum,
Friday night, General Yoram Yair, not Nachshon, walked through our door and brought us the terrible news.

The military rescue attempt had failed -- Nachshon had been killed and so had the commander of the rescue team, Captain Nir Poraz.

At the same time people had all returned to their synagogues, after their Sabbath meal, to recite Psalms for Nachshon's rescue, including our sons.

We called them home and together we all sat frozen, unbelieving, shocked and devastated for the rest of the Sabbath.

On Saturday night at
we buried our son.

That same microcosm of our people came to
MountHerzl at Saturday night to attend Nachshon's funeral.

That same microcosm of our people who had come to pray for Nachshon rescue at the Western Wall came to
MountHerzl at Saturday night to attend Nachshon's funeral; many never set foot at a military cemetery.

My husband asked Nachshon's Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who gave the eulogy, to please tell all our people that God did listen to our prayers and that He collected all our tears.

My husband's greatest concern when burying his son was that there would be a crisis in faith. And so he asked Rabbi Elon to tell everyone that just as father would always like to say "yes" to all of his children's requests, but sometimes he had to say "no" though the child might not understand why, so our Father in Heaven heard our prayers, and though we don't understand why, His answer was "no."

Our Father in Heaven heard our prayers, and though we don't understand why, His answer was "no".

The entire nation mourned with us. Thousands came to comfort us, though no one can comfort a bereaved parent. Israeli radio began each morning's broadcasts with the words "Good morning
Israel, we are all with the Wachsman family." Food and drink were delivered non-stop to our home; bus and taxi drivers who brought people from all over the country who wished to express their condolences, left their vehicles and joined their passengers in our home. That unity, solidarity, caring, compassion, and love with which we were showered gave us strength and filled our hearts with love for our people.

After the Shiva, we all returned to our routines. Our son who had just gotten out of the army attended the
HebrewUniversity, another went back to the army, two others returned to yeshiva, and the two youngest, twins who had just turned eight on the day of the funeral, went back to school.

For that is what the Jewish people have always done -- rebuilt after destruction, began new lives from the ashes and blood of the old.

I had a new respect for my parents, who had lost everyone and relocated to a strange land, a foreign tongue, and built a new family, a new life.

I was in my own country, my own homeland; my son died wearing his country's uniform, and, God willing, my other sons will serve their country proudly as well.

For, among my people I dwell, and that for me is still a privilege and a blessing. My three-fold love of my people, my land, and my Torah has never wavered.

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