Dear WJC Family,
In this week’s parsha, God comes to Abraham and Sarah and says “Lech Licha, Go you!…to the place that I will show you.” That place is the Land of Israel and Abraham’s descendants and the Jewish people have had a special relationship with that land ever since.
As many of you have heard, this Sunday I plan to visit Israel on a three-day solidarity mission organized by the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center of the Conservative Movement. Tami and I have had a special relationship with Fuchsberg since I studied at the Conservative Yeshiva there in ‘97-‘98 and Tami studied there in ‘01-‘02.
I am going because during the Covid pandemic, when for the first time in my life I was not allowed to travel to Israel, I felt like I was missing a limb. This will be my fourth trip since May of 2022. I haven’t always gone so frequently, but having missed the opportunity to be there then, it means even more to me now. With an opportunity to go and be with family, friends, colleagues, and members of this congregation who are there, I certainly won’t stay away.
I am going because “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh et Zeh, All Jewish people are responsible for one another.” Half of the world’s Jews live in Israel. We should do whatever we can to make sure they know they can rely on us. For me, at this moment, that means showing up and being with them. For you it may mean showing up to a rally or to our Benefit Concert with our own Neshama Carlebach on the evening of November 5 cosponsored by 25 local synagogues and organizations. (If you would be willing to volunteer at the Concert, please let Beth in the office know.)
I am going to give things. I will give phone charger cords (thank you to all of brought, I have a lot to share), energy bars, small packages of sanitary wipes (you can drop off kosher energy bars or pocket size sanitary wipes at the synagogue tomorrow if you have any), cards and letters made by our Religious School and ECC students, small gifts from parents with (mostly) grown children living in Israel, money from our Israel Assistance Fund to infused the work of newly created neighborhood relief efforts hatched out of necessity to support displaced persons, and hugs for friends and family and whoever. I imagine I will be dispensing a lot of hugs – for my sake and theirs.
Maybe most importantly, as we can already hear denials of the evil atrocities that have been perpetrated against Israelis, I am going to bear witness. I am going to witness the suffering, grieving, and healing, as well as the resilience, resolve and compassion of the Israeli people. I am sure this trip will be emotionally difficult, physically draining, and probably disturbing – that’s what witnessing takes. And hopefully our presence there will give a little hizzuk (strength) at a time I know it is needed desperately – worth it.
In order to allow you to bear witness with me, I have arranged a Zoom meeting for Tuesday afternoon at 2:30pm EDT (it will be 9:30 at night for me and I am sure we’ll be tired). It will be an opportunity for me to tell you about some of my experiences so far, we’ll be two-thirds of the way through the visit, and answer any questions you may have. See the event information below.
In the meantime, we have two b’nai mitzvah this Shabbat (third week in a row!) and I hope you will come and celebrate with us. I also hope you will attend our Renewal Service on Sunday evening at 7:00pm – I think this is a moment when we can all use some togetherness and healing. If you’ve never been to a Renewal Service, now would be the time to try it. I cannot overstate how comforting and healing this service is.
In the meantime, please continue to do the things we’ve been recommending – give to Emergency Funds (click here for a report on where some of the Assistance Funds have been going), show up at vigils, rallies, and our Benefit Concert, write to elected leaders by texting “Israel” to 24722, and check in on your friends and families. Don’t forget that we, your clergy, are here for you if you would like to talk.
See you in shul and Am Yisrael Chai,