Friday, October 20, 2023

Rising to the Occasion

Everything is not OK. The trauma of the events that unfolded in Israel starting on Simchas Torah is settling in and not going away. Pogroms from the past that we thought was distant history has reared its ugly head, and the unimaginable and unthinkable has occurred. The immediate future is very unsettling as Israel prepares to send its brave young people into harm's way as it fights for the Jewish People's survival. In another unprecedented development, hundreds of thousands of Jews who live near the northern and southern borders have evacuated from their communities. It's important to reflect on appropriate reactions to these developments. Obviously, this is a highly emotional and charged issue. We are so connected to Israel in many ways that it triggers an emotional response. We are obsessively checking the news, and that is understandable. At a certain point, it may be worthwhile to ask ourselves if constantly checking the news is the best way to spend our time. It's essential to focus on what actionable items we can do at this sensitive time that actually make a difference. I have been heartwarmed from the outpouring of love we have witnessed from Jews worldwide to assist our brothers and sisters in Israel. On a financial level, there was unprecedented support, with Israel Bonds reporting 200 million dollars of bond purchases in one week. The national UJA Federations announced a 500 million dollar emergency campaign, and within a week, they had already raised 388 million dollars. These are just two organizations of so many that are channeling the support of Jews of America into action. I was proud of our community that came together and opened their hearts to contribute to the drive that Rabbi Joey Hamaoui organized generously. A steady stream of people from all over the community came into our shul lobby and dropped off goods and supplies to be sent to Israel. Several vehicles drove to Miami (thank you to all the amazing drivers) to transport the supplies, where they were sorted and packed for shipment to Israel. Our community contributed approximately 500 pounds of supplies which were shipped on one palette. All together, from donations throughout the country, 100 palettes were shipped from Miami this week to Israel! As the war is expected to intensify and more people may be displaced from their homes, we anticipate future drives for this worthy cause. Another way of contributing to the effort is, of course through prayer. There is a website, that has a list of names for about 17,000 soldiers. Every time you go to the site, it links you to a specific soldier for whom you can pray. As of today there were over 188,000 chapters of Tehillim recited on that website alone. The nation of Israel is in a crisis it has not seen in decades. The call is for all hands on deck. There are so many actionable things that we can do to make a difference. Let's rise to the moment! Have a peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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