War in Israel
War in Israel
READ OUR STATEMENT
The following message was shared with the congregation on October 7, 2023.
Dear Central Family,
We are devastated by the news from Israel this Shabbat and Simchat Torah morning. Exactly 50 years and a day from the surprise attack of the Yom Kippur War, Israel was once again taken by surprise by a wide scale attack by Hamas and possibly other terrorist forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Herzog and the major opposition leaders have declared Israel “at war.” Hamas has fired over 5,000 rockets into Southern Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They have breached border walls and civilians have been deliberately, horrifically targeted, including children — some kidnapped, some killed. As of this writing, there are reports of 40 dead and over 900 wounded in just hours as well as several hostages both in Israel and Gaza.
As Jews, we value life above all, and we pray for this violence to end quickly. As proud Zionists we believe in the right of Israel’s citizens to live safely and securely within its borders, and to self-defense when under attack. Central Synagogue is making an initial donation to the Jewish Agency, which is on the ground bringing immediate assistance to the hundreds of victims of terror in this latest attack.
Whether you are in synagogue today or in your homes, we hope that you will pray for the peace of Israel and our family under dire threat. Our righteous impulse to support the other half of the Jewish community of the world is itself an act of solidarity and love. They need all of us now.
We are devastated by the barbarism of Hamas terrorists that streamed into Israel to hunt down and murder Jews and their continued attack on Israel through missiles and other means. We've created this dedicated page to coordinate our efforts in supporting our Israeli cousins during this crisis. It will serve as a central hub, providing information on how you can contribute, stay informed, and access essential resources. Continue checking back regularly for updates.
What You Can Do
Being present in Jewish community is more important than ever. Here are ways show solidarity with our Israel cousins:
- Join us for Shabbat evening, morning, and Mishkan services in person or online. Together, we will continue to reaffirm our solidarity with our Israeli family, mourn our losses, and pray for peace.
- Nearly every member of Congress has issued a statement expressing unequivocal support for our ally Israel. Contact Congress and urge your representative to cosponsor a new bipartisan resolution to stand with Israel.
- Consider a donation to Central Synagogue’s Emergency Relief Fund. In addition to the Jewish Agency for Israel's Victims of Terror Fund, Central will make additional donations to UJA Israel Emergency Fund, and the Israel Trauma Coalition.
- Share Rabbi Angela Buchdahl’s Shabbat sermon "Israel at War: In the Beginning There Was the Word" (October 13, 2023) with family and friends who are struggling to understand and speak about Hamas’ attack on Israel.
- Share Rabbi Angela Buchdahl’s special Shabbat message with students at Universities who might be having difficult experiences on college campuses.
- Pledge to call our Congress members and senators every day, reminding them that hostages are still waiting to come home and asking them to bring them home. Find the phone numbers of your representatives here.
- Sample Script: "My name is [your name] from [city]. As a constituent of [representative's name], I implore you to use your voice and influence to ensure [your country] does everything it can to secure the safe return of [hostage name], one of over 200 Israelis brutally kidnapped by Hamas and taken hostage in Gaza. Can I count on [the representative] to do so?"
- Share the full recording of the Communal Meeting with the Families of the Hostages.
READ OUR SPIRITUAL CALL TO ARMS STATEMENT
The following message was shared on October 25, 2023, with the congregation and registrants of the event: Communal Meeting with the Families of the Hostages.
Last night, thanks to our partners at UJA, Central Synagogue hosted thousands of us in our Sanctuary and our homes, bearing witness to the unimaginable: families telling the story of their loved ones brutally captured by Hamas terrorists. Abigail Pogrebin gently guided the parents and relatives of Hersh, Itai, and Omri as they told their stories, and now they are no longer just pictures on posters: They are all of our children. To watch the full event, click here.
I called the evening a spiritual call to arms. The families have made a simple request of us: that we call our elected officials EVERY DAY and remind them that the hostages are still waiting to come home and ask them to use the might of the United States government to bring them home.
The families expressed their deep gratitude that we were there to listen to their stories and support them. But we can do more. We MUST do more. Find the phone numbers of your representatives here.
I am pledging to call our congress members and senators every day. Will you join me? It takes five minutes out of your morning. Hersh’s mom, Rachel Goldberg, said you can do it while you are making coffee in the morning.
Let this be our morning prayer until all of the captives are home.
How To Stay Informed
Stay updated with the latest news, developments, and analysis on the Israeli conflict.
These trusted sources include comprehensive coverage, analysis, and first-hand accounts, ensuring you have a well-rounded understanding of the situation. We will recommend specific articles in the days ahead.
- Must-read article from Chief Policy Officer at Israel Policy Forum Michael Koplow
- Times of Israel
- Mosaic Magazine
- “The Discourse Is Toxic. Universities Can Help.”
- “Do Not Take Your Mezuza off Your Door”
- “Israel Story” podcast featuring Rabbi Angela Buchdahl and Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov: Listen on Spotify Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts
- Condemnation of Hamas from Lucy Aharish, a Muslim Arab Israeli citizen, the first Muslim Arab newsperson on Israeli television: Watch the Video
- Rabbis Roundtable: Supporting Israel with Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz
Please note there will be no Israel briefing with Michael Koplow on November 16 or 23. The next briefing will be held on Thursday, November 30, at 12:00 pm.
War in Israel: Emergency Update With Michael Koplow (October 12, 2023)
Weekly Israel Briefing With Michael Koplow (October 19, 2023)
Weekly Israel Briefing With Michael Koplow (October 26, 2023)
Weekly Israel Briefing With Michael Koplow (November 9, 2023)
Weekly Israel Briefing With Michael Koplow (November 30, 2023)
Reports from Israel's Home Front (November 2, 2023)
As we continue to witness the devastation facing Israel, it's important to amplify stories of courage. Israelis united and mobilized to provide essential relief to those impacted. Listen to Rabbi Naamah Kelman and her husband, Dr. Elan Ezrachi, interview local Israeli heroes. In our first session, we heard from Jerusalem City Councilwoman Laura Warton, whose political party joined with 3 other organizations to create the Jerusalem-based "Situation Room." You can watch the recording here.
Reports from Israel's Home Front (November 9, 2023)
Reports from Israel's Home Front (November 16, 2023)
Israel Emergency Relief
Support relief efforts in Israel by donating to our trusted on-the-ground partners. Your contribution will provide immediate aid — including food, shelter, medical assistance, and trauma support — to affected communities. We will continuously update this section with information on emerging needs and additional recommended organizations.
- The Jewish Agency's Fund for Victims of Terror: Provides immediate, critical financial assistance to victims of terror and their families, while also following up with long-term overall recovery and rehabilitative support (including psychological counseling, job retraining, and more). Donate here.
- UJA Israel Emergency Fund: Supports critical, lifesaving relief efforts including emergency cash assistance for victims of terror, trauma counseling, care for children in shelters, burial expenses, funds to relocate people to safer areas, and more. Donate here.
- IsraAID's Emergency Fund: An international NGO with extensive experience coordinating large-scale humanitarian response missions around the world, working with local partners to meet the urgent and long-term needs of affected communities. Donate here.
- Israel Trauma Coalition: A cornerstone in the national treatment of trauma and emergency preparedness in Israel and around the world, providing leadership and resources before, during, and after a crisis. Donate here.
- American Friends of Magen David Adom: Israel's official representative to the International Red Cross, Magen David Adom's 33,000 paramedics, EMTS, first responders, and first-aid providers — volunteers and staff — provide essential medical care to the injured and the ill. Donate here.
Resources for Families
For parents and guardians seeking guidance on how to approach this sensitive topic with children, you can refer to these resources for insights and strategies to engage in meaningful conversations, and foster empathy and understanding with the situation in Israel. If you are a member of Central Synagogue, please check your email for specific information sent to Central families regarding this crisis.
- Manhattan Congregational Collaboration: Helping Children and Teens Respond to the War in Israel (October 12, 2023)
- Tips from Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal: Talking to Kids About the Crisis in Israel
- The Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope With Frightening News
- The Union for Reform Judaism, How to Talk to Children About the Conflict in Israel
- Advice from Rabbis Rebecca Rosenthal and Rena Rifkin: Helping Your Secular Schools Respond to This Moment: Advice for Parents
- Dr. Rachel Fish discussed the roots of antisemitism and how it has entered mainstream discourse in politics, media, and social justice conversations, particularly as it relates to Israel: Responding to Antisemitism With Dr. Rachel Fish
Prayers for Israel
We hope that you will pray for the peace of Israel and our family under dire threat. Our righteous impulse to support the other half of the Jewish community of the world is itself an act of solidarity and love. They need all of us now. Central Clergy recite this prayer during services for those being held in captivity:
May the One who blessed our ancestors bless, protect and guard those missing in action or held captive. We, the members of this holy congregation pray, on their behalf. May the Holy One have compassion on them and bring them out from darkness and the shadow of death. May God break their bonds, deliver them from their distress and bring them swiftly back to their families’ embrace. Amen.
Cantor Mutlu also recorded the below sung prayer, Acheinu (Our Brothers and Sisters) with Israel in his heart.