Cleveland Stands with Israel

Tags: Federation, Shabbat & Holidays, Israel

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This past Tuesday, more than 1,000 Jewish leaders across the world gathered on Zoom to get an update on the situation in Israel from Michael Oren, former Ambassador of Israel to the United States. Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, called it a “family” call.

And then the first Tel Aviv sirens sounded, and Ambassador Oren moved his camera so that we could all watch the “Iron Dome” intercept the first terrorist missiles entering Tel Aviv. Just a few minutes later, he said, “Do you hear the screaming? We had a missile hit right outside my building. Everyone – call your families, stay safe. We will be strong. Be strong where you are too. And we love you.” The call ended.

It was startling and hard to absorb. We are coming out of a pandemic – we aren’t in person, we can’t reach through Zoom to hug and provide physical comfort for someone else, for our family. And now we hear about the devastating intercommunal – sometimes neighbor to neighbor – violence. This is the kind of violence and chaos that threatens the very fabric of Israeli society.

On Wednesday, over 500 of us came together in Beachwood to rally with Israel. We rallied to send a message of comfort, peace, and healing. We wanted to publicly state that Israel should not be held to a double-standard – every sovereign nation has a duty to protect its residents from terrorist attacks. We wanted to show our young people that antisemitism and fear cannot stop us from raising our voice. We wanted to show Israel that she has our support* against Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

And, perhaps most importantly, we wanted to remind the world that the loss of any innocent life – regardless of where the individual lives or what religion they do or don’t practice – is tragic.

We are in constant contact with our partners on the ground in Israel, The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which are carefully assessing the needs related to trauma, emergency shelter, and repair of homes and community buildings. The Cleveland Federation already has sent an additional $100,000 to begin addressing the needs of traumatized children, adults and families and support victims of terror. If you would like to help support our family in Israel during this time of crisis, we have opened a special “Cleveland Stands with Israel” fund that you can access here.

Yes, our Jewish family is loud, caring, and passionate, as well as diverse in background and opinions. We have different opinions on many things – but I think we can all agree that what is happening in Israel right now is painful and it must stop.

At the beginning of next week, we will observe Shavuot, marking the Torah being given to the Jewish people. The rabbis say that there are 70 faces of the Torah, to emphasize that there are multiple ways to interpret. Even with all of those meanings, it is still Torah – just as with all of our differences, we are still family.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach. May we all find peace.

Erika B. Rudin-Luria

* Jewish Federations of North America is calling on the U.S. Government and international community to do all that they can to end these attacks immediately. Tell your representatives to publicly stand with Israel and support its right to defend its citizens today.

Learn More: Federation, Shabbat & Holidays, Israel