There are no words that can adequately embrace you and your families as we witness, horrified by the terror and destruction that has reigned down upon Israel. The death toll is mind boggling, the barbarism unleashed on our people is crushing. More than 1,200 souls snuffed out through vicious, unspeakable and inhumane acts of violence. More than 2,900 people are wounded and fighting for their lives. The fate of 150 abducted babies, toddlers, teenagers, parents, grandparents, and Israeli soldiers is breaking all of our hearts. And tragically the death toll and wounded continues to rise. My heart aches for our people Israel and our country Israel.
As you know the attacks on Israel are continuing. And Israel has begun her counteroffensive. The retaliatory bombing of Hamas infrastructure will inevitably have a devastating human toll on the Palestinian people living in Gaza. My heart aches for the innocent Palestinian children and people who are caught in the crossfire living in Gaza under Hamas rule.
I like many of you, members of our congregation, have family and close friends in Israel and specifically living in the South. We know that family members and friends are experiencing loss and fear for loved ones. All of our family members and friends have been called up in their reserve capacity. In Israel everyone knows someone who has been devasted by this terror. The Talmud teaches: Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh all of Israel is bound one to the other.
What can we do? Beginning on Saturday morning 10/7, as the news reached us that Israel had been attacked, we held a space in our Sabbath prayers for Tehillim (Psalms) to be recited. Others found our Saturday night ritual of unrolling the Torah around the community and feeling physically “wrapped” and held by this ritual, comforting. And on Sunday morning our congregation held a vigil in Solidarity with Israel. So many of you found comfort and support in our shared vigil.
And the pain and destruction continues. First and foremost our hearts go out to the Israeli children, men, women and people of all ages. I am comfortable and confident with the following three sources as recipients of your tzedakah as you hope to send direct aid to Israel through The World Union for Progressive Judaism: https://wupj.org, through J Streets Israel emergency fund: http://jstreet.org/ways-to-support-those-impacted-by-the-ongoing-ongoing-crisis/. For many of us we are looking to respond to grassroots efforts in Israel that will directly aid the victims of terror. My niece was living on Kibbutz Nir Oz. As you know, Kibbutz Nir Oz was one of the Kibbutzim on the border that was completely devasted by the terror, murder and destruction of this past Sabbath. The following grassroots effort is going directly to care for the survivors of the atrocities at Kibbutz Nir Oz: https://my.israelgives.org/en/fundme/kibbutzniroz
Additionally our Tikun Olam Committee will be organizing an ongoing campaign to provide support for civilians throughout Israel. Please go to Tikun Olam on our synagogue website.
But I write to you mostly to say that it is at times like these that we all need one another. This is when we need to come together as synagogue community and to fill our sanctuary. This is when we gather together expressing our solidarity as a people and with Israel. Throughout this Shabbat I will be dedicating prayers of comfort, teachings relevant for the moment, and a safe ongoing community Shabbat vigil experience for us to give and receive comfort to and from one another.
I encourage you to join your congregation for Shabbat observance. Friday evenings at 6PM and Saturday mornings at 10AM.
Know that I am here for and with you.
Chazak v’eemetz חזק ואמץ קץמזוא ח
Rabbi Yael Romer (she/her)
study: (845) 338-4384