From Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President URJ
These have been heavy, heady days. With the escalation of violence in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have launched Operation Protective Edge, calling up IDF reservists for active duty and amassing troops along the Gaza border. Israel has already had to deploy the Iron Dome.
A number of our Reform Jewish summer programs are on the ground in Israel, including NFTY-EIE, Kesher Taglit-Birthright, Mitzvah Corps, and congregational trips. We have been in constant contact with group leaders and with participants’ families and will continue to closely monitor the situation. At this time, everyone is safe and – Adonai yishmor tzeitam u’vo’am – may God protect their comings and goings.
As I write to you, Israel prepared for another night of rocket fire from Gaza. Residents of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Ra’anana, and so many other cities will be keeping close to bomb shelters this Shabbat. Sirens are expected to continue to blast warnings as Hamas continues to launch hundreds of rockets at targets in the Negev and throughout the center of Israel. Daily life in Israel will continue to be uprooted.
This is our time to come together as a community to show our solidarity with the people of Israel and the IDF. In the coming days, we will share with you information about the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Religious Action Center’s joint campaign to end racist rhetoric, as well as efforts to provide humanitarian aid to our congregations in Israel.
But we can help now.
As we did two years ago, the Reform Movement has joined in partnership with the Conservative Movement and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to raise and distribute funds to provide emergency aid and alleviate the pain and suffering of our Israeli brothers and sisters. We can’t stop the rockets or silence the sirens – but we can try to soften their impact on the lives of the children and families living under their blare. Please visit JewishFederations.org/StoptheSirens to join this community-wide effort.
This Shabbat, as we keep Israel in our hearts and in our minds, let us say together these words: “Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu, v’al kol Yisrael v’al kol Yoshvei Teiveil ve’imru amen, may the One who makes peace in the high heaves make peace for us, all Israel, and all who inhabit the earth.” Amen.
At times such as these, we feel especially connected to our people in Israel and worldwide. I hope you will join me in contributing to this critical joint effort.
Rick Jacobs Signature
Rabbi Rick Jacobs