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Autumn in Southeast Florida Finds Our Hearts in Our Homeland

In the months before the high holidays, passionate supporters of Israel in our own Jewish community and around the world were riveted in support or opposition to The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as “the Iran nuclear deal.” And now, even with our school year and “season” in full gear, our focus remains firmly on our homeland’s security, with Israel in the midst of a shocking spate of violent attacks throughout the land.

Our thoughts, our hearts and our prayers are with these victims and their families, and with all our brothers and sisters in Israel who are once again under siege on the frontlines of Jewish security for us all.

Once again, we check our phones and computers day and night as the rising wave of brutality against innocent civilians spreads tragedy and fear. We reel with horror, grief and outrage at report after report. A young couple is shot to death in their car with their four children watching. Another is stabbed along with their baby while walking from Shabbat services. A car rams into a crowd. Explosives detonate. On peaceful streets, on a bus, in a mall. In the cities, in the villages and in between. Just last night, Palestinian rioters set alight part of Joseph's tomb in Nablus and Hamas declared today a “day of rage,” as was the case every Friday for the past month.

And once again here in the diaspora, we find ourselves at one of those pivotal moments when we – as individuals, as a community and as a people - are called to stand strong in solidarity as Israel faces this latest challenge.

So what can we do from afar as, with high emotion, we watch the course of this latest scourge of violence? We will keep you posted about opportunities to show your support!

Meanwhile, I know that you join me in reaching out to friends and families in Israel to offer our support and to let them know they are not alone. Just as we celebrate good news and good times with them, we grieve and fear with them in times like these. Guiding us to care for our extended family in Israel as we do our own, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue writes in a recent blog, “let them know that as long as their lives are disrupted, so are ours.”

Let’s thank our community’s rabbis and elected officials who are standing strong with Israel by speaking out on her behalf from their hearts and their positions of respect and influence. Like Member of Congress Ted Deutch who has stated unequivocally more than once that, “It's time for President Abbas to condemn this wave of terrorist attacks and speak out loudly and resolutely against those who perpetrate violence,” and who has introduced a bipartisan House Resolution condemning incitement and anti-Semitism within the Palestinian Authority.

And all of us can convey our solidarity loud and clear on social media, in emails and in conversations with those around us. We can let everyone know how confident we are that, as always, the Israeli government is taking the most effective measures available to protect the safety of all of its residents - and that it will exercise its right and responsibility to defend its land and its people.

Let’s counter the plethora of what David Harris of American Jewish Committee’s recent blog calls “journalistic acrobatics” in mainstream media that mislead readers by what Harris calls, “blurring the distinction between who are the arsonists and who are the firemen.” For example, a BBC headline of “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” was changed following complaints to “Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City.”

And let’s remember how strong we are together here in South Palm Beach County in our unwavering commitment to our homeland. We join in solidarity at rallies, rise to emergency appeals and call on our policymakers when she fights for her existence. Through our passion and generosity, we stand together with Israel each and every day, making a difference for our Jewish family there in a multitude of vital ways. Because nothing brings our diverse Jewish community together like our shared love for our homeland. And this is one of those moments when that couldn’t be more important.

Just four weeks from today, almost 100 of our friends and neighbors, rabbis and other community leaders will be showing their solidarity in person by gathering together across the globe for our multi-generational, multi-denominational Spirit of Israel Mission. We’ll be reporting back regularly while we’re there and after we return, but it’s not too late to join us for this extraordinary time together that is sure to be even more meaningful than we’ve anticipated for the past year. You can learn more at jewishboca.org/engage/spirit, give us a call at 561.852.3270, or email danav@bocafed.org.

Or send me an email with your interest or your thoughts at asktheceo@bocafed.org.

Shabbat shalom,

Matthew Levin
President & CEO