Read timely, inspiring and thought-provoking articles, and watch relevant videos selected by Rabbi Silverman at Rabbi Silverman's Suggested Sites to See.
Written in Israel at the completion of the Shiva of the three Israeli families, and during the grieving of Hadir family
There was a time that Israelis bragged about having a "normal" country. They had police and they had firemen. They had municipal workers and sewer cleaners. They had prostitutes and a Russian crime ring. The avenues were named after Jewish heroes and great Torah scholars, politicians intellectuals and philosophers and philanthropists. It was a Jewish country that had all these things and because these were signs of normalcy, there was a certain satisfaction for a people who had lived a ghettoed and restricted life for centuries. Of course that blessing is also a curse, because along with having a normal country comes having extremists, perverts and yes, terrorists. There is nothing satisfying about this. Criminal elements and racists exist in Israel as they do in any other country.
So what can we conclude about the grisly murder and kidnapping of three innocent teens in Israel that was answered by yet another grisly murder of a young Arab, Muhmad Abu Hadir, this time by a ring of Jewish terrorist extremists as payback? Are we to understand, as the media is presenting and as Palestinian leadership are suggesting, that Israelis are thugs and terrorists and that the Zionist "occupying" aggressive policies and authorities are the ones who should be condemned. Are we to digest this as just another example of tit for tat in an endless cycle of violence in which both sides are equally guilty?
The first thing that we conclude is that we too should grieve the loss of an innocent Arab boy who was the victim of ultra-nationalist racist rage and vengeance. May he find comfort with G-d. In our hearts, we too ought to express the same sentiments that the Fraenkel family expressed to Mahmud's father, Hussein Abu Hadir, when they told him that there are no excuses for terrorists, whether they target Arab or Jew; that the loss of his son is as devastating as the loss of their son. Terrorists are a blight in all societies and our hearts are broken for his loss too.
The second thing we can conclude is that equating the two sides–Palestinian and Israeli–is unfair and inaccurate. Yes, we have our terrorist element, but they are a mere handful in the history of the conflict. There have been horrible crimes committed in the name of Jewish nationalist extremism but they are rare, and are condemned by the left, the right and the center. General Chief of Staff Moshe Ayalon said he was ashamed, and this crime against Mahmud in no way represents the values of Judaism or of Jewish people. The Prime Minister condemned it as a reprehensible crime even before the perpetrators were known, and when he did, he labeled them terrorists who will face the full force of the law in court. MK Bennet, a right wing politician, called for legislation that equalizes the punishment for terrorists, Arab or Jew. Rabbinic authorities condemned their actions as a Hillul Hashem, a desecration of G-d's Name, for their moral perversion and for the damage they did to the reputation of the Jewish people.
Usually, my monthly ENJC article focuses on a myriad of events taking place in our congregation. With the current horrific situation in the land of Israel, this would not be appropriate, and therefore, I will share with you a few brief thoughts on the current situation in Eretz Yisrael.
The current crisis is critical, as Israel defends itself against Hamas, a terrorist organization, which now involves other countries supporting them. As I am sure is the scenario with many of you, we have numerous family members and friends living in Israel–I have two brothers and a sister living in Israel with multiple children and grandchildren, numerous other cousins, and literally hundreds of friends, as well. Living in the USA, we obviously are extremely attentive to the situation in Israel and offer our prayers and support as well.
This current war against Hamas is unlike anything that Israel has had to endure since 1948, the year that the State of Israel was established. Almost 2,500 rockets have been launched into Israel by Hamas, reaching into cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv! The range of these rockets is unprecedented, and if not for Israel’s hi-tech missile defenses, the loss of lives and damage would be unimaginable. Less than 10 rockets have actually struck Israel, which is quite amazing. I spoke to my brother just yesterday. They live in Raananah, a suburb of Tel Aviv, and he told me that the air raid sirens were sounded at least ten times during the day, forcing everybody to rush into their air raid shelters. They spent several hours in these shelters during the day! We can’t possibly imagine the kind of stress and fear that the Israelis are currently experiencing throughout the country.
Quite obviously, Israel is defending itself, as it always has, with numerous air strikes and bombing into Gaza, and now has initiated a ground attack into the Gaza Strip, hoping to cause serious damage against Hamas. The ground attack will unfortunately result in the loss of many young Israeli soldiers, this we absolutely know as a fact.
The imperative question that we can ask ourselves should be:
“What can we do to assist our brethren in Israel at this time?”
• We can certainly communicate with our local leaders, members of Congress, etc. to let them know that it is essential for America to be fully supportive of Israel at this time.
• It is essential to support Israel financially as well.
• We must pray to G-d for the safety and well-being of our brethren and of Israel
Avinoo shabashamayim, tzoor Yisrael v’goaloh, barech et m’ddinat Yisrael rayshit tzimichat g’oolateino. V’natata shalom b-arets v’simchat olam l’yoshveha, v’nomar Amein. Read More
Our father in heaven, rock and redeemer of the people Israel, bless the State of Israel with the beginning and blossoming of our redemption. Shield Israel with your love; spread over it the shelter of peace. Bless the land of Israel and all its inhabitants with lasting joy, and let us say, Amen.
I am excited to be ENJC’s president for the next two years. “The times, they are a changing," is apparent when you look at the names of the Board of Directors and notice that almost 50% have children in our Religious School. It is terrific that this many of our younger families are willing to invest their time to help ENJC be the right choice to belong to for Conservative Judaism. This is perfect because we have our older congregants to provide advice, history and guidance. I invite all to participate; you do not need to be on the Board to attend a meeting. All committees–ritual, education, fundraising, community relations, communication, financial, house, insurance, legal–there are opportunities for all. You can e-mail, text, call or talk to me about getting involved. If you are a new member, it is not too soon, and if you have been a member for more than 30 years–it’s not too late. We can use everybody’s expertise. This is a total team effort and we need all the support we can get.
When I was asked by some “why in the world would you ever want to become a temple president?” My first answer was, "it was on my bucket list!" Seriously, my thoughts were that both my children would be in college by August 23rd, and look at all that free time– A great way to beat “Empty Nest Syndrome."
I was ENJC's Men’s Club president for two years and really enjoyed my term. During those two years we always had numerous men willing to participate to make our events successful. I am hoping that during my presidency I will be able to reach out to many congregants and have them become involved.
I appreciate the confidence the Board of Directors has in me to be President.
On behalf of my family, I would like to wish all a L'Shannah Tovah! Read More