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Beef supplement a game-changer for Israel’s army

Though beef jerky is not generally known to Israelis, it has quickly become crucial to the health, welfare and morale of those on active duty.

Israeli Defense Forces during a ground operation in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 3, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli Defense Forces during a ground operation in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 3, 2023. Credit: IDF.
The “Beef Up Our Boys” beef-jerky campaign for Israeli soldiers and emergency responders. Credit: Courtesy.

“Beef Up Our Boys” is a grassroots campaign quickly taking Israel’s army by storm. The project provides kosher beef jerky to the Israel Defense Forces and ZAKA emergency responders in the field. The product supplements and enhances Israeli army food rations.

From the onset of Israel’s “Operation Swords of Iron,” a group of people living in Beit Shemesh recognized that standard army rations—often consisting of three cans of tuna a day—were not enough nutrition for active soldiers. The group joined forces with those who had the skills and a deep desire to help create a community-powered initiative that provides protein-packed, ready-to-eat beef jerky to those on the frontlines.

Though beef jerky is not generally known to Israelis, it has quickly become crucial to the health, welfare and morale of those on active duty. The organization receives notes and videos of appreciation daily from soldiers often stating that beef jerky is more important to their well-being than even helmets and vests. Once the meat is eaten, there are always requests for more.

Beef jerky is not just a “nice treat” (though it is). IDF soldiers regularly report that the pure meat product—lightweight and requiring no refrigeration or cooking, and that easily fits into a pocket or vest—is a game-changer for the country’s protectors, particularly for those stationed in remote locations, including Gaza and the northern border.

The organization’s artisan chefs and approximately 200 volunteers work round-the-clock ensuring that the never-ending flow of requests for beef jerky gets filled. To date, “Beef Up Our Boys” has distributed more than 35,000 bags of beef jerky to IDF soldiers and ZAKA members since the start of the war.

The project not only seeks to physically feed soldiers but strives to spiritually nourish them as well. Included in packages are handwritten, heartfelt wishes for success in their missions. Every beef jerky bag also includes the “Shehakol” bracha, or “blessing,” as a gentle reminder that everything comes from God.

Presently, each day, “Beef Up Our Boys” produces and distributes about 1,500 bags of beef jerky for frontline fighters. The organization runs entirely on donations. As money comes in, the goal is to increase production to 3,000 bags a day.

Chaim and Elisheva Rutenberg, the couple that started the effort, said: “Look for opportunities that help people in a tangible, loving way. By providing the funding, you are beefing up Israeli soldiers, supplying needed nutrition and love on the battlefield.”

Donations can be made at: BeefUpOurBoys.com.

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