Young leaders tzedakah lets Israelis know were here

Goldstein described past Young Leadership service projects as tzedakah, but this year it's "about building bridges with Israelis. What's needed is not charity but friendship. They need to know we're there."

And they will — literally.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to record messages for Israeli soldiers on videotape and donate a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of an American city or university to a member of the Israeli armed forces.

Participants can also donate English-language children's books to Israeli schools or purchase goods from Israeli merchants, including a challah cover, which will be donated to an Israeli senior citizen.

Gift of Life, the Jewish bone marrow registry, will also be operating at the conference.

"This is not anonymous tzedakah," Goldstein said.

"Every single T-shirt, challah cover or book for a child will be accompanied by a hand-written note and a Polaroid of the person who sent it. We're reaching out and holding hands with someone who's our brother or sister across the sea."

— Joe Eskenazi