Torah scroll funded by recycled bottles dedicated to fallen IDF soldier

Hundreds of students from northern Israel helped create a Torah scroll, paid tribute to a fallen soldier and made the country a little greener.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Thanks to 360 students and 200,000 bottles, a sefer Torah was dedicated at Moshav Elyakim on Monday in memory of IDF Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib, the only Israeli soldier who died in last year’s 11-day Gaza war.

Tabib was killed on May 12 last year when Palestinians fired a guided anti-tank missile at his military jeep. Two other soldiers in the jeep and a civilian who ran to their aid were injured.

The soldiers, from the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s 931st Battalion, were tasked with protecting Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara from being infiltrated. The 21-year-old Tabib was just a month away from completing his military service.

The idea for a Torah scroll financed by recycling bottles evolved from conversations between Omer’s father, Amir, and Rabbi Shneur Katz, principal of the Nahalat Yeshiva High School in the nearby city of Migdal HaEmek.

“Writing a Torah scroll is a very expensive operation, and we were looking for a way to finance it,” said Rabbi Katz. “After much thought I decided to involve all the students in the operation, and the idea arose to raise the amount by collecting bottles for recycling. The Torah and at the same time contribute to a cleaner environment.”

Thus began Operation Omer, in which 260 yeshiva boys and 100 ulpana girls — an ulpana is a religious high school for girls — proceeded to collect bottles across Israel.

“With the help of the [Migdal HaEmek] municipality, we set up recycling facilities and asked the public to bring the bottles there. The result was above and beyond expectations,” Rabbi Katz said of the expanding project.

The rest of the Torah’s costs were covered by private donations.

Omer’s mother, Tali, and two grandmothers helped complete stitching the final sheet of the scroll while Amir and Rabbi Katz filled in the final letters.

“It was one of the most powerful moments of my life,” said Tali, describing her emotions as she helped sew up the scroll.

The Torah scroll will be used for the first time this coming Shabbat.