NEW YORK -- United States military personnel who keep kosher either during the holidays or year-round have always relied on the generosity of the community for their kosher fare. In recent years, Jewish soldiers in such far-flunged places as Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan received kosher food from the 4-year old Kosher Troops, founded by Sara Feurst and Ava Hamburger.
With over 2 million soldiers in the US Military, and only a tiny percent of them Jewish (around 6,000), it’s easy to imagine the needs of Jewish soldiers getting overlooked. Kosher Troops makes sure that doesn’t happen. What started as a fun project for a bas mitzvah party has evolved into an organization helping an average of 1,000 soldiers every single year. Kosher Troops arranges and sends packages before every holiday, ensuring that no soldier feels left out of the yearly celebrations.
These packages include dried and non-perishable goods such as challah, cookies, salamis, jelly rings, gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, etc. Care is taken to ensure seasonal foods are sent as well. For example, the Rosh Hashanah packages sent on August 20th included honey cakes and honey cookies. Sukkos products were included in these packages as well. Most of the food is donated by generous sponsors such as The Challah Fairy, Kedem, Osem, Streits, Golden Blossom Honey, and Manischewitz. Packages usually contain inspirational materials provided by Project Inspire or Chabad.
But Kosher Troops doesn’t stop at food. Sara Feurst encourages the soldiers to request anything they feel they are missing. So far they have shipped mezuzos, tefillin, and even a crock-pot with beans and barley! For Sukkos, three emergency requests for Lulavim came from three different Jewish groups in Afghanistan. The Feurst home is often visited by returning soldiers, to thank them for the efforts they made to make them feel a little more at home, even while stationed in places like Iraq and Libya.
To show their appreciation to the kosher food industry, a uniformed contingent of the US military will visit the upcoming Kosherfest next month.