A Letter About Israel
Dear Temple Members and Friends,
One of the realities of vacation in the 21st century is that no one is ever disconnected from the world anymore. This summer, as Shira and I have taken time away together, we are reminded daily – even hourly – of the situation in Israel.
There is a lot of noise out there, and I don’t wish to add to it. In my sermon on Yom Kippur I hope to share my thoughts about what it all means, and I pray that long before that we will see an end to the violence. But right now, as Hamas violated the ceasefire to which it agreed and invaded Israel not 90 minutes after the ceasefire began, I feel I need to reach out to you.
Sitting 6,000 miles away, the most important question we can ask is, “What can we do to help that will really make a difference?” I have three suggestions, all of which are concrete actions we can take today.
FIRST: In a Congress that doesn’t appear able to agree on what time of day it is, a near-unanimous vote in both houses resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for the Iron Dome defense system. Given that those missiles cost almost $100,000 each, this is a tremendous accomplishment. President Obama, too, has been a strong supporter of Iron Dome since he became president, and without that support I shudder to think where Israel would be right now. So right now – right now – please sit down and write an email to our two Senators, Menendez and Booker, and to your Representative, who is either Pallone, Holt or Smith. Thank them for voting to support the Iron Dome Missile Defense System, and tell them how much it means to you personally that they did.
Go to https://www.contactingthecongress.org/ and skip everything except your zip code +4, and you will get a link to each of your Congressmen’s email. You can send the same letter to each, but please be sure to change their names! To email President Obama, go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments and send your email through that site.
SECOND: The Jewish Federation of Monmouth is raising funds to send directly to those most affected in Israel – the families of the soldiers killed and wounded, and those forced out of their homes by the war. Please contribute NOW, at https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51069/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=11180.
THIRD: Do you have family in Israel? Friends? The guide who led you on your Israel trip a year ago, or ten years ago? I know you think they are swamped with emails from all over the world, but they aren’t. It will mean more than I can say if you take two minutes and drop them a line, via email or Facebook: “I’m thinking of you. I hope you and your family are safe, and I hope Israel will overcome this threat to its existence quickly. Please, when you have a minute, drop me a line to tell me how you are doing. Thank you, and love…”
If you ever went to Israel with Shira and me, the office has the email addresses for our guides. Just tell them whether your guide was Ronnie Macarov, Arie Harel or Chana Estrin and they will give you the information. However you do it, please do it.
The situation in Israel is a microcosm of radical changes taking place around the world. It would be easy to say there is nothing an individual can do, and certainly none of us can change the whole world by ourselves. But I have always believed that we can change some of the world, and make things a little better, and for me, that has always been enough. As the Mishna says, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but you are not free to ignore it.”
Let’s get to work. Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Don Weber