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Israel’s Election Sparks Reminder to Our Jewish Community

This month’s Israeli election continues to occupy my heart and mind, as I’m sure it does for many of you. With the pundits so prolific, there’s no need to recap or make yet more projections here. But I do feel deeply compelled at this time to share a critical reminder with our community.

It’s been 70 years since the end of the Shoah’s monstrous evils, and 67 years since the founding of the State of Israel. Yet anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment remain alive and well around us and around the globe. Sometimes they simmer under the surface. Other times they rear their ugly heads in statements and policies, in vandalism and violence.

Our Jewish family overseas may bear the brunt, but even in the thriving Jewish communities of southeast Florida, we are not immune. And our students experience it with the next generation on their college campuses. Knowing all too well the depths where anti-Semitism meets extremism, we are vigilant at home as our overseas partner agencies on the ground help to secure our Jewish family in Europe.

Many among us remember the years of the Shoah - the terrifying newsreels and stories, the heavy hearts as family letters stopped arriving from Europe. They remember as well their profound joys and fears at the start of the State of Israel, sending urgently needed money, clothes, blankets… even joining the fight on the ground and in the air.

Throughout our very beings, we know how vital the State of Israel is to the security of our Jewish people. Our community makes possible a wide array of programs for all ages to keep those memories and affinity alive both now and far into the future. But some in the Diaspora need a reminder right now. A reminder that Israel, our beloved homeland, is also the frontline of Jewish security around the globe.

Even for those of us here in this vibrant Jewish wonderland of spirit and pride, education and culture - history tells us we cannot do without this frontline. And it’s absolutely essential for us in the Diaspora to help ensure that this frontline remains strong, and that our brothers and sisters who stand on it in Israel have the support and protection they need.

For many decades, the U.S. and Israel have stood side by side. In the face of the Cold War. Through the rise of the ayatollahs in Iran. Against international terrorism on increasing fronts. And, yes, to protect our homeland and our brothers and sisters there.

Today, we live in another pivotal moment. A moment when radical Islam has come to Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. A moment of decisions when Israel faces the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. A moment when our community needs to engage in ensuring that the U.S./Israel relationship remains strong. A moment when partisan, political and ideological differences within our diverse Jewish community must be set aside. A moment when it could not be more clear that - for America’s security and Israel’s survival - it is vital that our countries maintain their tight knit economic and military relationship – a relationship that we cannot take for granted.

So let me remind you, too, that nothing brings our diverse Jewish community together like our shared love for our homeland. We come together in celebration of Israel’s anniversaries and unparalleled achievements. We stand in solidarity at rallies, rise to emergency appeals and call on our policymakers when she fights for her existence. And this is one of those moments when that shared love and solidarity couldn’t be more important.

I’ll also take this opportunity to invite you to a couple of community events where we will stand together in remembrance, celebration and solidarity. On Sunday, April 12, a few days before Yom HaShoah, members of the local Christian and Jewish communities will join in a March of Remembrance from Boca Raton Christian School’s gym to Temple Beth El for a meaningful Holocaust program. Then on Sunday, May 17, our Jewish community will once again celebrate Israel’s anniversary of statehood at IsraelFest with live music, a showcase of our community, children’s activities and more. I look forward to seeing you there.

And, as always, I look forward to your thoughts about how our Jewish community can come together for our homeland, our neighbors and our people.

B'shalom,

Matthew Levin
President & CEO