(photo credit: )
Emotions ran high at Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel on Wednesday night as 43 members of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles, sat down to dinner with a group of border policemen and infrantrymen and other Israelis.
Rabbi David Wolpe led his congregants and others from the LA Jewish community on a two-day solidarity mission to Israel, bringing with them over $1 million in donations.
"Two weeks ago on Shabbat I quoted Bamidbar: 'Shall your brothers go to war and shall we sit here?'" said Wolpe as the food was served. "That's not going to happen. We're going to Israel."
Wolpe wanted to raise as much money as he could to bring on the trip.
The donations started with a 99-yearold woman, who was inspired by recalling when the State of Israel didn't exist. She stood up and offered $10,000, he said, and the money started rolling in afterward.
Within a half an hour, Wolpe had collected around $600,000.
The funds will be donated to various organizations, with much of the money going to help soldiers. For example, money will be used to help fund combat soldiers' Spirit Week, which is a week of recreation for soldiers who have finished their missions, and to catering to soldiers' needs, like making kits and aiding those who have been wounded.
"That's just what I remember from the list," said Orna Pesah, who works in the Jerusalem office of International Friends of the IDF. "We're getting updated lists every week... these extras [kits] let the soldiers fighting on the front be a little more comfortable and shows the support not just from Israel but also from around the world."
Wolpe made two speeches during the dinner in which he thanked the soldiers for not just defending the country but for also defending the Jewish people. He said he was embarrassed by the thanks he and the rest of the group had received during the different visits they had made over the past two days, like to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
Maj.-Gen. Itzhak Eitan, the international chairman for Friends of the IDF, lauded the two groups of soldiers for the work they were doing. The audience responded by giving the soldiers a standing ovation.
"It's also nice to see that there are people who support what we do and come to show their support," said Dave Rosenblit, a member of the infantry unit based outside Ramallah. "We go so long without hearing about people's support; it lifts our spirits when we do."