November 3, 2023

Approaching Shabbat

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

Our Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, are organizing a mass gathering in Washington, DC, to support Israel and stand together as the American Jewish community at this challenging moment. The rally will be on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at 1 PM ET, at or around the National Mall. Lots more information next week. But you should hold the date now, and we’ll talk next week about buses and how we stand together as a community.

In addition to the funds that we send to our partner agencies on the ground, we’ve spent a lot of time this week approving emergency allocations from our own Greater MetroWest partner communities in Ofakim, Merhavim, the evacuees from Kibbutz Erez, and now also Hurfeish in the north. Some of the allocations that are being sent include remote schooling supplies, emergency generators, therapy (mental health care and trauma) facilitators, emergency security supply kits, diapers and baby food, and a lot more. There are some striking and heartbreaking things that we’ve paid for, including funerals and shivas. But also a lot of trauma care, mental health responses, and the like. It’s a reminder of the staggering impact of pain that we’ll face for years, decades, to come. We’ll post a full accounting of how we’re using your philanthropic dollars for the emergency fund, but I hope you’re proud of our response, and the swift and decisive response that our community has made. We’ve also been talking a lot about security, safety, and the fight against Jew-haters and Israel-haters, both online and in real life. We have some good responses already up and running, and there’s a lot more for us to do, so we’ll keep updating.

If you speak Hebrew, join me in a special shloshim memorial service in which we’ll honor the memory of those who were murdered and call for the release of the hostages. Join me and many of the Israeli community for the ceremony, which will take place (in Hebrew) on Sunday November 5, 8:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston. And no matter what language you speak, join me at 12:30pm on Sunday in Montclair for a community vigil for the hostages kidnapped by Hamas, Jihad, and Palestinian civilians.

We’re at the end of the fourth week of the war with Hamas. So far the IDF has confirmed 23 soldiers dead in battles inside Gaza since the ground incursion began. In the last 24 hours, fierce battles have been fought between the IDF and Hamas terrorists. In one attack, dozens of Hamas gunmen ambushed Golani troops, emerging from tunnels, climbing on to armored personnel carriers, and trying to gain control of IDF vehicles. The Hamas militants were successfully repelled. (Watch video footage from inside a tank during the battle here and here). In the evening hours yesterday, over 130 terrorists were killed in fighting. See more about the fighting on the ground here, watch descriptions of the battles by some of the soldiers here, and see photos here.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Israel for his third trip since October 7. He is said to be here as another show of support for Israel, while also trying to help avoid a second front. At the same time, Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would not seek to impose any conditions on the support it gives Israel to defend itself. Meanwhile, according to Reuters, the U.S. is flying surveillance drones over Gaza to help gather intelligence on the locations of hostages.

Our national Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Emergency Fund has surpassed $600 million, $148 million of which has already been allocated to the most pressing needs on the ground through 116 partner organizations and NGOs. Read moreClick here for the latest allocations report. Remember that a large chunk of these allocations come from us, here in Greater MetroWest, and these numbers represent real lives helped, saved, and loved.

Over 100 aid trucks entered Gaza yesterday, via the border crossing with Egypt. Meanwhile, the IDF has released a recording of a phone call from yesterday in which a Gazan medical official acknowledges that Hamas’s fuel reserves—over 260,000 gallons—are being stored directly under Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, the largest in the Strip. The IDF said “The call confirms that Hamas controls the energy and fuel resources in the Gaza Strip and chooses to direct them for terrorism. Moreover, if fuel is allowed to enter the Gaza Strip, Hamas plans to seize those resources.” (Listen to the call here).

The Israeli justice system is considering legislation to establish a special tribunal to try the more than 200 terrorists caught during the attacks on October 7.

Once again, sporadic heavy rocket attacks from Gaza were launched against Israeli targets yesterday, including strikes directed at Tel Aviv, Petah Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Rishon LeZion, Ramat Gan, Herzliya, Holon, and Givatayim.

In the north, attacks by Hezbollah, followed by Israeli reprisals continue daily. One rocket caused extensive damage, but no injuries, in Kiryat Shmone. In a veiled threat to the terror group in Lebanon, the IDF’s Chief of the General Staff said that “anyone thinking of attacking Israel” should know that “our Air Force is using up less than half its power in Gaza and planes are ready and armed with bombs for any development.”

Read here about Israeli preparations for the second month of war.

Watch this powerful video about two of the boys being held in Gaza, as narrated by their mother.

May this be a Shabbat of peace, and comfort for those in pain or suffering.

Chief Executive Officer