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Support for Israel: October 10, 2023

מֵחֲמַ֛ס אָחִ֥יךָ יַעֲקֹ֖ב תְּכַסְּךָ֣ בוּשָׁ֑ה וְנִכְרַ֖תָּ לְעוֹלָֽם׃

For the violence to your brother Jacob,

Disgrace shall engulf you,

And you shall perish forever.

(Ovadiah 1-10)


The above verse is from the book of Ovadiah and uses the word "Hamas" in context to highlight the violent actions of the nation of Edom to destroy Israel. Hamas in Hebrew means violence. The kind of violence so terrible that God dares not mention it in full and rather encapsulates it into one word.

Hamas in Hebrew means violence. The kind of violence so terrible that God dares not mention it in full and rather encapsulates it into one word.

Hamas is a terrorist organization with one goal–to see the Jewish people eradicated. They are transparent about their mission and have written and published their mission for all to see. What is happening now in Israel is atrocious and the work of people bent on doing evil, to the people of Israel as well as the people of Gaza. 

Like many of you, I have been endlessly scrolling through my phone and the news to see what is happening. But this is even more personal. I have seen Emily’s cousin sending four of her children off to fight. I have read about my Israeli friend in America praying for her loved ones in Israel to be returned home after being taken hostage by Hamas into the tunnels in Gaza. I have read about my friend who, after hearing bombs and sirens, dropped her baby on the ground in order to run to lock the door of the shelter so that her two children might not be among the statistics of kidnapped or murdered children.

This is personal. This is our family.

Our people have seen the most Jewish lives brutally murdered since the Holocaust ended. At the time of writing this, and I hope something changes by the time you read it, there is no clear end in sight.

We might feel helpless, but there are some things we can do:

  1. Stay Informed: Follow the news and take it all with a grain of salt with the understanding that truly unbiased reporting is hard to find. If you haven’t already, try following The Times of Israel.
  2. Show up for Israel: Within your capacity show up for Shabbat, vigils, events, online briefings, Israel Dance Club, whatever you can to show that we will not hide or back down in the face of terror. 
  3. Spread Awareness: I realize that online campaigns sometimes seem silly, but we need to show the real face of Israel to the world. Thank God, many countries around the world are lighting up Blue and White for Israel. At the same time, yesterday that was a large orchestrated show of support of anti-Israel sentiment, especially on college campuses. People are not taking the time to see the ‘’incredibly delicate nuances of the situation, to read the situation kindly, or are celebrating the atrocities happening to innocent Israeli citizens, to read it more bluntly. Post pictures. Share stories from Israel of the bereaved or those anxiously waiting for news of their kidnapped loved one. Use these real human stories to help change even one heart.
  4. Donate: The Rabbinical Assembly posted this JFN's List of Trusted Agencies and Nonprofits. On it are many vetted organizations who will send funds to where they need to be in Israel.
  5. Volunteer: Israelis are asking for different kinds of support, even from afar. Yesterday I came upon this form to Volunteer to offer mental health support to Israelis in need. If that applies to your skill set, you can register there.
  6. Pray: Prayer for the Simchat Torah War, Prayer for Israel in this Time of War.
  7. Take Care of Yourself: Drink water. Eat food that fuels your body. Rest. We can be the best support from afar if we take care of our bodies first.
  8. Reach Out: My office is always open. I love you and we will go through this together.


May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease and humanity will never again know war. I pray that the war in Israel ends as swiftly and peacefully as possible, that the hostages are released, that soldiers can return to their homes, and that Hamas is eradicated so that both Israelis and the citizens of Gaza do not have to live under a shadow of terror.


I pray for Shalom,

Rabbi Bender

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784