June 2, 2021

Heading to Israel IRL

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I’m going back to Israel this weekend — for real.

These past few weeks I’ve been immersed from afar in the fighting. Speaking with friends and colleagues, talking with Federation professionals, volunteers, supporters. Working with our leadership to get more precious funds to those who need them most.

But I need to see for myself. I need to go and understand, learn, share, and touch.

There are hands to be held. Hugs to be given. Friends and partners to be thanked and reassured that we will never – ever – let them down.

This weekend, along with the wonderful Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, we’ll take several dozen rabbis, cantors, and senior lay leaders from our Greater MetroWest community and Federation. As of now, it looks like we’ll be the only North American group in the country. We’re tentatively scheduled to meet with senior political and other leaders, and visit friends and families in the south, including in our beloved partnerships of Kibbutz Erez and Ofakim/Merhavim. We’ll visit an Iron Dome battery, view sites hit by Hamas rockets, and dialogue with local Israelis impacted by the fighting. We’ll see the work of our amazing, inspiring Federation partners on the ground – the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – whose teams risked their own lives to bring support to those who needed it most, helped victims of terror, and provided respite and material support to vulnerable populations precisely when it was most needed. We’ll meet with Jews and Arabs in Lod and Jerusalem to think through what dialogue and coexistence can look like in these fragile times.

There’s a lot more in the packed schedule. We’ll report back to you on social media and other channels and you can follow us with the hashtag #GMWSolidarityMission – because you deserve to see and hear what’s going on from people you know.

And because sharing actual, real, true, information has become a struggle itself when it comes to reporting from Israel.

But here’s the important bit: we’re going as emissaries – Shlichim, in Hebrew. We’re bringing a message of love and support and partnership from our Greater MetroWest Jewish community to the people of Israel. Our Jewish Federation has never given up on that responsibility. #WeLiveIsrael and follow us at #GMWSolidarityMission