Temple Rodeph Torah’s latest social action project hits close to home. The Marlboro congregation has “adopted” a U.S. Army troop stationed in Afghanistan, among whose soldiers is congregation member Zachary Tedoff.
First Lieutenant Tedoff, 24, and his platoon have already received care packages containing more than 300 pounds of toiletries and other goods collected by TRT.
Tedoff grew up in Colts Neck, where his parents, Una and Kenneth, live. A 2009 West Point graduate, he has been in Afghanistan since April and will be stationed there for a year, helping to build infrastructure and water supply systems.
The generosity and support shown by her fellow temple members toward her son’s platoon is a source of great comfort for the family, said Una Tedoff.
“TRT really deserves accolades for what they do. People have been so generous, and you don’t know how to thank them,” she said.
In a phone interview with NJJN, her voice broke several times while talking about her son and the dangers of his deployment.
“It’s nerve-wracking and emotional, but we pray a lot and visualize him being safe,” she said. “It’s his journey and his life, and we are very proud of him and his fellow soldiers who are so dedicated to serving their country.”
The packages sent to Afghanistan included many of the items Tedoff listed in an e-mail to his mother: lip balm, wipes, notebooks, pens, hard candies, playing cards, toiletries, and gifts for Afghani children such as coloring books, crayons, and school supplies.
In a recent e-mail to his mother, Zachary Tedoff said he and his fellow soldiers “look forward to getting the boxes” from TRT and sent a message of thanks on behalf of his platoon.
“It was incredible how much the temple sent,” he wrote. “It is really great that they send these packages. My men and I and the Afghani people — especially the children — really appreciate it.”
Shari Canell of Marlboro, cochair of TRT’s social action committee, oversees the care package project.
“Social action and giving back is something that’s always very important to me and for Jews in general. It’s the thing about our temple that I love the most,” said Canell.
There are three bins in the temple’s atrium, one for items for the troops and the other two for the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch and the Monmouth County food bank.
The committee has supported troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before, said committee member Joel Richman of Marlboro. “We feel it’s important to provide them with necessities to make their time there easier and less stressful,” he said.
“Zachary’s platoon is very grateful for everything,” said Una Tedoff. “Not only is it exciting to get packages from home, but when they are out on patrol, the living conditions are third-world. When there are no showers for a week, the hand wipes, neck coolers, and hand sanitizers really provide relief.”