Israel in a time of War

“In the midst of our personal and collective grief, we are united in spirit and purpose.”

My friends, I am struggling with what I can say to you. This is a terrible time. Israel is at war and has been invaded. Videos show the horror of kidnappings and killings. Each of us has our own political beliefs, but none of us can be at ease as we see what is happening. I am well aware that some of you are Muslims married to Jews. I do not for a moment think that every Muslim is bad or every Jew is good. But none of us supports killing children and raping women.

My mailbox is filled with constant updates and appeals from Israel and supporters. I have checked on friends and family living in Israel. I’ve continue to reach out to American friends who have loved ones who are in Israel. This country is the only Jewish state, the only country that will absorb Jewish refugees without questions or quotas. Jews are a small tribe. The “game” of Jewish geography can easily be won when two Jews sort out who they know in common.

Finding News You Can Trust
Several friends expressed concern about where to find reliable sources of information about the war.  Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) recommends these resources for following credible news from Israel.

The JCRC email stated:
In this political climate, and with fast moving updates, it is critical to be sensitive to the credibility of news sources. Follow reputable news sources and check your sources before reposting information.
We recommend the Times of Israel Live Blog for for up-to-the-minute news.
Here is a list of social media accounts of credible, English-speaking journalists:

Tal Schneider (Times of Israel)
Noga Tarnopolsky (freelance)
Hadas Gold (CNN)
Nadav Eyal (Yediot Ahronot)
Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Avi Scharf (Haaretz)
Barak Ravid (Axios)
Sarah Tuttle Singer (Times of Israel)

Support Israel
To support victims, help rebuild damaged infrastructure, and address the unprecedented levels of trauma caused by this horrific attack, we direct the community to support the emergency campaign of the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund.

Local Responses
Solidarity gatherings have been held around the bay area.
In Danville at Beth Chaim Congregation they recorded their event.
(Service begins at 9:45. At 31:33 you can hear a woman read a letter from her niece in Jerusalem.)
Go to shul, be aware that security will be high. Find comfort among the mourners and the frightened. Be a kind voice to those who are suffering.

Most synagogues will be having comfort and healing services tomorrow, October 13. Here’s an example from Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo:
Friday October 13, 6:30 p.m.
Join Peninsula Temple Beth El for a Shabbat of Peace and comfort. This Friday we will gather in the sanctuary to welcome in Shabbat in song and prayer. As we offer comfort and support to our community, we also turn our hearts East as we mourn the loss of human life and pray for our friends and family in Israel. We will be joined in solidarity with leaders from the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition who will stand with the Jewish Community and offer support.

What to do?
Rabbi Amanda Russell of Beth Sholom in San Francisco wrote this to her members:
Of course many of you are wondering; what can I do? Here are some suggestions:

1. Support Israel financially. What we are hearing is that financial contributions are an effective and necessary way to support Israel in this time of crisis. Below is a list of worthy places to consider:
Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
Magen David Adom
Comprehensive list from the JWeekly

2. Reach out to your friends and family. With over 1,200 casualties, we know that so many of us will have stories. Friends of friends, relatives of loved ones, connections to hostage situations, soldiers going off to war, or, God forbid, a loss. It is ok to not be ok and please know that you are not alone.

3. Talk with your children. This is a difficult time, one that will affect all of us. Should you choose, there are ways to share developmentally appropriate information with your children. Consider also sharing your feelings. Here is a good source to help you shape that conversation.

4. Come join us in prayer at Beth Sholom. Israel will be in our daily prayers (both in person and online), and of course you can join us for Shabbat. Being in community can help you and others.(Note: contact your own synagogue or one near you for information about connecting with your local Jewish community.)

Be kind to yourself and all those you encounter.

לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מַעֲרָב
My heart is in the east, and the rest of me at the edge of the west.
– Yehuda HaLevi