Dear Federation and Community Leaders,
Join me next Tuesday (12th) at our JCC MetroWest for a powerful, moving, and important discussion with four heroes and heroines of light, survivors of the October 7th massacre. Space is limited, you must pre-register at www.jccmw.us/heroes
Last night Michael Goldberg, our Federation President, and I had dinner with several dozen presidents of synagogues from across our Greater MetroWest community (Essex, Union, Sussex, Morris, and parts of Somerset counties). There were Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Independent, and other denominations present. We talked about membership, dues, security, collaborations, and many additional issues. It’s clear that the diversity and range of our synagogue life is a huge strength, and one of our Federation’s core priorities is to enhance the dialogue and information-sharing between them. We’re committed to helping your synagogue – our synagogues – grow and stay healthy.
I’m really pleased to tell you about the 10/7 Project, a new Jewish Federation collaboration with AJC, AIPAC, ADL, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The 10/7 Project is an organized effort to counter the disinformation about the attacks of October 7th and Israel’s response, especially aimed at the key media and government influencers. See this news bulletin that was just published. We’ll keep you updated on this important effort to counter the outrageous media bias we’ve been seeing. It’s really important.
There are some great zoom events happening this week. Actually all on Thursday. I want to tell you about three of them …
On Thursday (7th) at 10am, my awesome colleague Dan Elbaum, head of our partner the Jewish Agency for Israel in North America, is discussing the war and Israel’s fight for survival with Dr. Einat Wilf, former Knesset member and a terrific thinker. You’ll hear fascinating insights into the geopolitical and historic complexities, community impacts, and Israel’s resilience. They will also provide an update about The Jewish Agency’s ongoing response to help both Israelis on the ground and Jewish communities around the world.
At 2pm on Thursday, join us for a powerful discussion on the rise in global antisemitism. Jewish students at universities nationwide are growing more uneasy on campus. Join Jewish Federations, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Hillel International, and the Anti-Defamation League for a discussion with Assistant Secretary Catherine E. Lhamon and Katy Joseph. They will shed light on the U.S. Department of Education’s role in combating discrimination against Jewish students and their taking proactive measures against antisemitism and related hate on college campuses.
And at 7pm, same day, Join our Federation partner JDC for an evening with chef Adeena Sussman, author of 14 cookbooks, including Shabbat – Recipes and Rituals from My Table to Yours. She’ll prepare a Chanukah treat and guide us through festivities. Later, enjoy holiday classics by Tony Award-winning singer Ari’el Stachel from The Band’s Visit on Broadway. Cap it off by lighting your menorah with your Jewish family in Israel.
I’ll update more about what’s happening in Israel tomorrow, but for now our JFN friends are looking at how trauma is developing into a major health care concern for Israelis. For example, the trauma organization ERAN reported receiving 50,000 calls a day, compared to 3,500-5,000 calls before the crisis began! A third of all Israelis experience symptoms associated with forms of PTSD. The release of hostages both assuaged and reopened wounds, especially when hearing accounts of torture and mistreatment of children. I’m glad that many of us, including many organizations supported by our UJA funds and our Jewish Federation’s emergency campaign, are already working on larger systemic long-term responses for the massive health care challenge this will represent.
52,000 K-12 students are displaced, and classes are taking place in improvised facilities. Though in the last week, the government has begun taking a more active role in this issue, by and large nonprofits are still providing much of the educational programs on the ground. As time extends, the urgency of this challenge increases. The evacuees of the north report receiving fewer – and less organized – services than those of the South. That is compounded by the uncertainty of the military situation. Cities in the “second layer” of the Gaza envelope (mostly Ashkelon, our partner city of Ofakim, and Netivot) are still targeted by Hamas rockets and are dealing with a range of issues resulting from the war, from the economic to the psychological. Those cities were never affluent to start with, and their social services are now stretched incredibly thin.
Vulnerable populations, people with disabilities, and the elderly are particularly exposed. We have a lot more to do here.
With prayers for healing,