A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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St. Louis Jewish community ready to mobilize to equip Israel’s soldiers and help displaced families


Within hours of the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, thousands of Israeli soldiers and reservists started receiving calls that they were being activated for duty. Many of them were here in the United States. As these young men and women began their trek back to Israel, many found their way to New York’s Kennedy Airport Terminal 4 where Rabbi Willie Balk of Englewood, N.J. was waiting.

Balk, whose parents Mitchell and Sheila (Radman) Balk (she passed away in 2013) are St. Louis natives, was recently mentioned in a New York Times article after he asked friends and congregants for donations and then purchased $12,000 worth of supplies for the war effort.

(R) Rabbi Willie Balk with a man that agreed to take 47 duffels on a flight to Israel. Cost was $3600. Willie put out a call to friends and congregants and the funds were in his Venmo within 5 minutes.

“He bought items requested by friends in the IDF including 850 G-Shock watches, packed them up, and went to the El Al terminal at JFK to see if he could find people to take them back to Israel. Four days later, the watches were on the arms of soldiers,” said Lynnsie Balk Kantor, Balk’s aunt and a member of Congregation B’nai Amoona.

Motivated by her nephew, Kantor jumped into action to further help supply IDF troops with much-needed items and help families who were displaced after the terror attacks.

Together with fellow B’nai Amoona members Jenny Wolkowitz and Missy Korenblat-Hanin, Kantor established the Hatikvah Israel Solidarity drive to collect items requested by soldiers in Israel and needed by displaced families. The drive will take place Oct. 29.

“Willie offered to take the items we collected to JFK as well but then said that El Al has been backed up the past week so it would be too difficult to get items from the U.S. to Israel that way,” said Kantor. “He knew of a rabbi in Miami whose shul is arranging for items to be transported to Israel via chartered planes and then delivered directly to groups working with the IDF so we are partnering with them.”

There are three ways to help support the Hatikvah Israel Solidarity Drive.

Purchase Items Locally for Drop-Off

You are invited to purchase items from the list below for drop off at B’nai Amoona on Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hatikvah: Building Hope for our Soldiers-Supply Collection List

Clothing (All items must be new and unisex)


  • G-Shock watches
  • Camelbaks or hydration bags
  • Black cello tape (Tesa brand preferred)
  • Black Static Rope (for securing items)
  • Medications: adults, baby (Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Benadryl)
  • Neosporin
  • Winter waterproof jacket (adults, kids)
  • Sleeping bags (black/grey/dark green)
  • Blankets
  • Gauze rolls
  • Leukoplast (for minor cuts)
  • Blister plasters
  • Tents (6-8 people)
  • Charging blocks
  • Fleece (Women, men black/grey M, L)
  • Beanies (black, green)
  • Neck warmers with/without hood (green, black)
  • Knee pads (black)
  • Flashlights
  • Thermal underwear (Men, women)
  • Small kids’ toys
  • Chapstick
  • Tic Tac candy


  • Waterproof jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Coats
  • Sleeping bags (black, grey, dark green)
  • Blankets -Tents (6-8 people)
  • Fleece (S, M, L)
  • Beanies -Neck warmers with/without hood
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • Thermal underwear (S, M, L)
  • Pajamas (kids)
  • Toys
  • Puzzles
  • Balls
  • Sport equipment

Purchase Items from an Amazon Wish List

An Amazon Wish List has been created with specific items requested by soldiers and needed by families. All items purchased will be sent directly to the Miami distribution center. At checkout on Amazon, be sure to select “Skylake Synagogue, ISRAEL SOLIDARITY DRIVE’s Gift Registry Address” as your delivery address. Then, send an email to [email protected] and let them know what you’ve purchased.

Make an Online Donation

Make a donation to B’nai Amoona. With these funds, the congregation will then purchase items on the list for the collection.

“When our daughter Talia went as a Lone Soldier to Israel, we helped outfit her with these “extras” and hers was a time of relative peace,” said co-organizer Jenny Wolkowitz. “Can you imagine what these soldiers are going to endure in a ground battle in Gaza or in the mountains of the North? We need to help boost the morale of the soldiers who are now fighting for Israel’s very existence. We here in St. Louis can’t be on the front lines, but we can let these soldiers know that we are behind them 100%!”

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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.