Shabbat Shalom ~ Vayigash 2023

Shalom WJC Family,

I hope you have gotten the information about our WJC Israel Solidarity and Volunteer Mission leaving a month from yesterday. We have 18 registered participants and have room for a few more. If you are interested in traveling with us from Sunday January 21st to Friday morning January 26th and would like to see more information click here.

I know you cannot all join us in Israel and many of you have been contributing in different ways, including our WJC Israel Assistance Fund. If you recall, we started the fund to help ad hoc grassroots organizations who are doing the bulk of the work right now supporting displaced persons and families of reservists. Thanks to your contributions, we have distributed almost $25,000 to small on-the-ground efforts. At the end of this note I have attached several thank you notes ( like the two pictured here) and pictures we have received from one of the organizations. If you’d like to continue to support the fund, which is also helping a Conservative/Masorti synagogue in Jerusalem manage the situation, rebuilding at Kibbutzimin the Gaza Envelope, and support soldiers directly in various ways, the fund is still accepting donations.

Others of you (or your children) have written letters to soldiers and children in Israel. Some of them were distributed by our trip organizer Meirav Shveiky-Fishman when I was last in Israel in late October (she is also the trip organizer for us in January – she’s amazing!) Her son is in a tank unit in Gaza. She gave the letters to his comrades and they have made their way into Gaza – in the breast pockets of soldiers and taped up inside Merkava tanks. I wanted to let you know this, because it sometimes feels like our efforts here in America aren’t making a difference – what good is a letter or card from here? Where does it end up? What good is a small donation from the US amid all the craziness in Israel. The answer: to the people impacted, more than we can know.

I am taking a few days this week with the whole family, since Elijah is home on break, so I won’t get to write a letter. I hope I’ll get to see you in shul this week or on December 30th when I‘ll reflect on this crazy year from the bimah. But, if I don’t see you beforehand, wishing you a happy, healthy, calm, and successful 2024!

See you in shul,


Dear Jeffrey,

I’d like to share with you what we have been able to do with our community thanks to the generosity of your community since my previous email:

  1. Clothing and underwear for 15 displaced families – according to the needs (sizes, ages) of all the families). This was one of the requests as the weather has changed since October 7 – it’s colder, and they needed warmer clothing. 
  2. Pizza vouchers for 13 families who have a parent serving in the IDF for them to use when they like. The local pizza place was so happy to work with us on this! 
  3. Food packages on erev Shabbat for the community’s families – baked, wrapped and delivered by youth of the community. 

Please have a look at the pictures – there are some thank you notes in there for your community! 

What we would like to do:

As time goes on we now have more idea of what we’d like to do, and it would be wonderful if you can help us make the following 2 projects happen:

  1. Supporting youth run volunteering projects. The teenagers of our community have stepped up and are really doing us proud: they’re running activities for families, organizing ‘yom-kef’ – fun days out for children who are having a very hard time due to the situation. We would like to support them with this. It would include making sure they have the equipment they need, to provide activities and supplies for their events. 
  2. An additional gift-card for the family who are navigating leukemia while being evacuated from their home.


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