Our Support for Israel

October 8, 2023

To our beloved Temple Israel of Boston community,

We write to share our support for the state of Israel and also to condemn the violent attack of the Palestinian Hamas militants of Gaza on Israel.

On Friday night at Temple Israel of Boston, we celebrated Simchat Torah and Shabbat. We connected the end of Deuteronomy and immediately began Genesis again. The last letter of the Torah is lamed –ל– and the first letter is bet –ב–. Together they make the Hebrew word for heart, lev לב.

Our hearts were full as was Levi Auditorium with the Torahs on full display.

We welcomed our Israeli teen guests from schools near Haifa, Kiryat Chayim, and Leo Baeck. Their presence added to the joy we felt from our hearts outward. We danced together with Torah scrolls in our arms on the street.

By Saturday morning, our hearts were broken from the devastating news that the Palestinian Hamas militants from Gaza had breached the security walls and gate and violently ruptured the holiday by murdering soldiers and taking civilians as hostages to use as human shields. More than 600 Israelis have died from their premeditated assault, and a thousand so far have suffered injury. Those numbers are an extraordinarily dreadful amount in proportion to the size of the population of Israel.

Their attack on Israel is against every citizen: Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab, Palestinian, Druze, and many other nationals. They have brought war to their own front yard and danger to innocent Palestinian civilians in their community.

Fifty years ago, almost to the day, Israel’s vulnerability was pierced by the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria. Many are comparing this moment to then. But, I have heard others say that the more apt comparison is to 9/11. The devastation and the ripple effect of the impact will have significant ramifications in ways that are not yet even known.

As interfaith clergy have reached out to me to offer support, my response has been one of gratitude and request. I have asked them to voice their own condemnation specifically of the attack on Israel by Gaza, and not just to denounce violence. It is important for all of us to voice our concern with our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Israel is under attack. Our support for Israel matters greatly.

Here are some pieces of information about gatherings and support for you to know and to attend:

  • Our trip to Israel to engage with Israelis and Palestinians has been postponed to this winter.  Our Israeli teen guests hosted by many of our teen families will be in New York for the first part of the coming week. If they can travel home, they will. If not, they will be welcomed back to our community until they can safely reach Israel.
  • Our community partners organized through CJP, JCRC, and IAF will hold a rally in Boston tomorrow at noon. Some of us will be meeting at Temple Israel at 11:00 a.m. and will take the train together, and you are welcome to join us.
  • We know there are many of us with family in Israel. Those who live in harm’s way and those called up to serve in Israel’s defense are held close to our hearts by all of us. Cantor StillmanRabbis JacobsonSlipakoffOberstein, and I are here to support you in whatever way we can. We join you in wanting all those who live in Israel to be safe and secure.
  • This Friday night, we will join together in prayer, song, and words of Torah focused on Israel and the devastating circumstances to offer comfort. Following the service, we will have the opportunity to speak with one another and share our own insights and reflections. The Riverway Project community (20s & 30s) will have their own service as planned.
  • Support for Israel can go to this fund, specifically set up to help.

We live in heart wrenching times. May the strength of Israel endure and may there come a time when peace becomes stronger than violence and all those who live in the region know calm from a united heart of community and cooperation.

With sadness and hope,

Rabbi Elaine Zecher

Cantor Alicia Stillman, Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, Rabbi Dan Slipakoff, Rabbi Andrew Oberstein