Saul Teplitsky, an Orthodox Jew from New York, did everything he could to support Israel after the Hamas attack on October 7th. He donated money to various organizations aiding Israel and urged his community to contribute necessary items to the IDF. However, he felt it wasn’t enough. Then, an idea struck him: Why not bless the soldiers heading to Israel for the war effort?
Having heard about a friend’s son joining the IDF, he had an idea: Visit the airport and see if there are any Israel soldiers who are making their way back to Israel. And so, he visited Newark Airport and encountered a young Israeli soldier on his way to Israel with 27 duffle bags for his unit. Approaching the soldier, he sought permission to give the Birkat Hakohanim (The Priestly Blessing and God’s blessing for the Children of Israel). The soldier agreed, and as a Kohen, Teplitsky recited the biblical blessing (Numbers 6:24-26): “May the Lord bless thee and protect thee. May the Lord shine his face toward thee and be gracious unto thee. May the Lord lift his face toward thee and give thee peace.”
“After I finished giving him the blessing, he had tears in his eyes and said that this blessing is better than any gear he’s going to wear to protect him,” Teplitsky said.
Teplitsky then noticed other Israeli soldiers at the airport and proceeded to bless them. “They were all very appreciative,” he recalled. “I went back home and opened a WhatsAapp group of Kohanim and an organization called: ‘Kohanim on Call’,’ thinking we would bless five people a day. In three weeks we had 1,500 Kohanim, and gave 15,000 blessings.”
These Kohanim hail from around the world, including countries like Brazil, Italy, Hong Kong, South Africa, and the U.S. They encompass Jews from across the denominations, but all share a belief in the power of the ancient blessing.
“Each Kohen receives a name of a soldier and his mother’s name, then records the bracha (blessing) and sends it to the soldier,” explained Teplitsky. In many cases, parents or family members of soldiers fighting in Gaza request the blessing.
The blessing is believed to provide protection and ward off harm or evil. The Kohen places his hands over the head of the person being blessed and recites the biblical words.
The Torah assures that God promised protection to the children of Israel when they exited Egypt and appointed Kohanim to bless them.
“Our goal is to bless all 350,000 soldiers in Israel.” – Saul Teplitsky
“Our goal is to bless all 350,000 soldiers in Israel. Every day we are getting new names, and our list already has thousands of names, so we are trying to recruit more Kohanim to help us in this mission.”
Since launching this unique “Blessing project,” Teplitsky has been working 18 hours a day between his day job as a business owner and organizing blessings for Israeli soldiers.
The growing WhatsApp group prompted him to open a new platform, making the process quicker and easier for everyone involved.
If you would like to submit a name of a soldier to receive a blessing, please submit at: https://tinyurl.com/KohensOnCallForm.
If you are a Kohen (Cohen) who wants to join the group and give a blessing, please register at: https://tinyurl.com/Kohanim-registration