Dear Friends:Sitting down to write to you about what has transpired in Israel over the weekend, I am reminded of trying to find the words to share with our community after 9/11 more than two decades ago. Truly, the events beginning on October 7 represent Israel’s 9/11. On these dates, the ground shifted underneath both countries. October 7 will be remembered as a day when many of the assumptions about the capabilities of Hamas under the direction of Iran, the reach of Israeli intelligence, and the readiness of the IDF, were all shattered simultaneously. As of this writing, more than 900 Israelis have been killed, more than 2,500 have been injured, and more than 100 people are being held hostage in Gaza. In America, that would be the equivalent of 25,000 of its citizens killed, 90,000 wounded, and 3,600 people captured by terrorists. As Rabbi Daniel Gordis pointed out: “Not since the Holocaust have this many Jews been killed in one day.” Just as those horrific images of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center still shock us, there are a whole new set of horrific images that will long be associated with the barbaric attack against civilians that took place on Shemini Atzeret 2023. The one thing that no one should be surprised by is the terrorist organization, Hamas. Since its formation in 1988, it has been perfectly consistent with its founding Covenant. The mission of Hamas was stated clearly in its preamble: Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. Regarding negotiations with Israel, we have this: Peace initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The timing of the attack had as much to do with the internal tensions in Israel as it did with the progress of the Israeli and Saudi Arabian peace negotiations. The arrangements being discussed would have a far-reaching positive impact on the entire region, as well as the plight of the Palestinians. These advances would have significantly weakened Hamas and Iran. To confer any legitimacy on Hamas is the worst form of moral equivalence. The wanton acts of violence and the massacre of the innocent, in coordination with Iran, are the work of an inhumane terrorist organization that continues to bring nothing but destruction and misery upon the very people they purport to defend. As for the role of American Jewry, our Torah reading for this week speaks directly to this moment. In the story of the murder of Abel, God confronts Cain as to his brother’s whereabouts, and he responds: Am I my brother’s keeper? It is the most powerful rhetorical question in the history of humanity. Yes, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The responsibility inherent in those ancient words is precisely what it means to be part of the family of Israel. As Israel enters what promises to be a terrible war with far reaching consequences let us respond:
On Thursday, October 12 at 7:30PM there will be an opportunity for our Lakeview community to pray, sing and stand in solidarity with Israel. Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago Jewish Day School,
Emanuel Congregation, Joseph and Belle Braun Religious School of AES, Mishkan, Silverstein Base LNCLN, and Temple Sholom will be gathering at Anshe Emet for a community event. It will be our honor to hear from JUF President, Lonnie Nasatir and the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, Yinam Cohen.
which includes a special moment when we invited members of our community who were thinking of loved ones in Israel to come forward and hold the Torah as we sang Hatikva together.Please consider supporting one of these agencies’ valiant efforts:
At this difficult time, let us pray that the words of the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel will be heard on High:
Avinu she-ba-shamayim, stronghold and redeemer of the people Israel: Bless the State of Israel, [that it may be] the beginning of our redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace and its inhabitants with lasting joy. AmenIn the days and weeks to come, we will have the opportunity to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. B’shalom,
Michael S. SiegelSenior Rabbi Anshe Emet Synagogue The Norman Asher Rabbinic Chair