Saturday, October 7th 2023 was supposed to be a day of Shabbat and Festival joy, but those intentions were shattered when we heard the devastating news of the horrific attacks on Israel. The words and images coming from our homeland continue to fill us with shock, rage, anger, and deep sadness.
To our brothers and sisters in Israel: our hearts are in the East. We stand with you in unwavering solidarity and support as we pray for your safety. We grieve for those who were killed. We send Refuah Shleimah to those who are wounded. We send prayers of safety to those who were abducted. And we send our deepest love to Israeli families who are living through this war. You are not alone.
For more information, please click HERE.
Through educational programming, awareness, support and advocacy, NSS Beth El has an unbreakable bond with Israel. We are committed to creating a personal connection with Israel through a variety of programs and participation in local and national events, and we affirm the central Jewish value of Am Yisrael (the People of Israel), Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) and the Hebrew Language.
We support the Masorti/Conservative movement in Israel (www.masorti.org), which promotes religious pluralism and “supports the work of Israelis in building a Judaism that preserves observance and tradition, which recognize how modern life in Israel is lived” (from the Mission Statement of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism).
Beth El is committed to creating a personal connection with Israel through a range of programs and we encourage opportunities for adults, teens, and college students to visit Israel. We know the power of peer trips to Israel and provide an Israel Scholarship Program for teen travel, including day school, youth group and camp trips and IsraelNow opportunities. Teens from NSS Beth El have attended JNF-supported Alexander Muss High School each year.
Although there are many ways and opportunities to support Israel, a most important way is to visit Israel itself. In his Rosh Hashanah 5782 sermon, Rabbi Alex Freedman encouraged everyone to go to Israel:
Rak BaAretz. Only in Israel. If you’ve ever been to Israel, I’ll bet you have one or more “Rak BaAretz moments. What was it? Was it spending Shabbat in Jerusalem? A moment at the Kotel? Dancing in the streets for Yom HaAtzma’ut – Israel Independence Day? Memories with friends on a teen trip? Bonding with family on a family trip? Bumping into somebody you never expected to on Ben Yehuda Street? Seeing the sunrise at Masada? What is your Rak BaAretz moment?
… as a Jew, I know that Israel is the only place in the world where we Jews control our own destiny…Israel is the only place where a Jewish majority votes, legislates, and holds national political power. Israel is home to a Jewish army to protect all of its citizens and Jews worldwide. Israel is the only place where a true Jewish culture flourishes openly – in literature, art, film, television, music, dance, cooking and more. Israel is the place whose schedule is set by Jewish time, where Jewish holidays are national holidays, where we can truly build a society grounded in Jewish values and ethics …. Israel is the place where thousands of years later, the same people are worshiping the same religion in the same language in the same land. That is breathtaking.
For the full sermon, click here
There are numerous organizations that provide information about Israel, advocate for Israel or support different elements of Israeli society. We encourage all our congregants to support those that they find meaningful.
THE CONSULATE GENERAL OF ISRAEL TO THE MIDWEST embassies.gov.il/Chicago
The Consulate is the official representative of Israel to the Midwest, serving as a liaison between the residents of the region and the State of Israel.
THE JEWISH UNITED FUND OF METROPOLITAN CHICAGO www.juf.org, an organization that impacts every aspect of local and global Jewish life, providing human services for Jews and others in need, creating Jewish experiences and strengthening Jewish community connections. Their website provides links to hundreds of Israel resources.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND USA www.jnf.org JNF USA is much more than planting trees. Each project, program, and partnership is consistent with their strategic vision– population growth in the north and south, connecting the next generation to Israel, Zionism, infrastructure development, ecology, forestation, heritage preservation, and more — all for the land and people of Israel.
MERCAZ USA www.mercazusa.org is the Zionist membership organization of the Conservative Movement. MERCAZ advocates for funding of pluralistic streams of Judaism in Israel through the World Zionist Congress, which is crucial to our movement’s growth in Israel and around the globe. Our congregation is an active member of Mercaz, and we are proud of our congregants, Rachel Russo and Sandy Starkman, Vice-Presidents of Mercaz, and Alan Silberman, Board Member.
NSS Beth El congregants can join or renew their membership in MERCAZ USA on their dues bill or at www.mercazusa.org
American Jews have a wide variety of sources available for news and information regarding Israel. The following list is just a sample:
Ha’aretz www.haaretz.com. Haaretz is Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.
Jerusalem Post www.jpost.com. An English language publication based in Jerusalem.
The Times of Israel www.timesofisrael.com. An English language online publication
Yediot Ahronot (in English) www.ynetnews.com. A national daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Israel 21 C (www.israel21c.org) Founded in 2001, this non-partisan, nonprofit organization was designed to broaden public understanding of Israel beyond typical portrayals in the mainstream media.
I24 News www.i24news.tv/en. A 24 hour online news station from Israel, streaming live.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency jta.org. Jewish Telegraphic Agency is an international news agency and wire service serving Jewish community newspapers and media around the world.