I am in pain. The news from Israel makes me cry. It hurts to see my friends, neighbors and family in Israel suffering. I love Israel. I lived in Israel for 21 years. I am a citizen of Israel, served in the IDF and even did a stint of guard duty in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Life in Israel is not simple. In 2004, Israel left the Gaza strip. We said, “Here is your chance to create an independent state. Go and make a better future for yourselves and your children.” In 2004, what did the Gazans do with the millions of dollars they received from the international community. Instead of building new hospitals, universities, or schools; the money was used to purchase rockets and weapons. Sadly, they chose revenge against enemies as more important than investing in one’s children. Golda Meir said, “Peace will come when they decide they love their own children, more than they hate ours.”
In 2004 a vocal minority in Israel warned, “If we leave there will be rockets from Gaza falling on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Ashkelon will become the front line.” The majority of Israelis then said, “It’s time to take a risk for peace.”
Since then, 17 years have passed and thousands of missiles have been launched from Gaza intended to kill, maim and traumatize the civilian population of Israel.
How would any country respond to such a threat to its people? The response of Israel was to invent the Iron Dome. In Hebrew it’s called Kipat Barzel, which literally means the “Iron Kipa.” In America a kipa is often a thin piece of satin you wear in synagogue. In Israel the “Kipa of Iron” is a hi-tech invention that protects people, body and soul. Israel is doing all it can do to protect its population.What can we do? If you have family or friends in Israel, now is a good time to reach out and call. Let them know they are not alone. Let them know we care and we stand with Israel.
We can learn more about what is happening and why. I recommend reading Ha’aretz (it leans left), Times of Israel (it leans to the middle), and the Jerusalem Post (it leans to the right.) Our Israel Action Committee, led admirably by Jackie Moscow, provides regular opportunities to learn more about Israel.
Now might be good time to plan a trip to Israel. This October Rabbi Greenberg will lead a group. If you can’t go in October, may I invite you to join me on a trip to Israel next spring. Ideally, I would like us to do the March of the Living, a journey that brings us to Poland and Auschwitz, and then takes us to Israel and Jerusalem.
Shavuot is the holiday of First Fruits. Reform synagogues celebrate Confirmation on the Shabbat closest to Shavuot. Please come tonight as we celebrate the hope of our youth and pray for peace for the People of Israel.
Rabbi David Wilfond