Responding to the Crisis in Israel by Rabbi London (10-12-23)

I would like to thank everyone for their love, concern, prayers, and notes since the deadly incursion by Hamas happened in Israel on Saturday morning. I was scheduled to return Saturday night from Tel Aviv. As the day unfolded, we began to get news of the horror that was happening in the south of Israel, and when we arrived at the airport, the air raid sirens went off because missiles had been fired from Gaza. After that, as you can imagine, most flights were canceled. I arrived safely home in Evanston on Tuesday afternoon after three long days of travel which took me through Jordan and Turkey. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s notes personally, but I want you to know that your spirits carried me home safely. I am so appreciative of the care and support of our entire community.

Although I am thankful to be physically safe, my heart is broken for those who have been brutally killed by Hamas, those who have been taken hostage, those who are injured, the bereaved families, and all those who have been traumatized and are living in fear. Many of us have family and friends who have been harmed by the atrocities. The grief, fear, overwhelming sadness, and a myriad of other emotions that we are experiencing in the Jewish community in Israel and around the world at this horrific time is overwhelming.

So many have reached out to ask how they can help and to express their feelings. Many people have also shared their concerns about security for Jewish institutions here in the US. In this email you will find information about security measures we are taking at Beth Emet which are based on the advice of security professionals and the Evanston Police Department. We are also including a list of organizations to which you can donate. Finally, we need to care for each other and our souls. To this end, Cantor Young and I are planning to create a Friday night service in which we can pray, reflect, express our feelings and support one another at this awful time.

Over the High Holy Days, we prayed in the Unetaneh Tokef prayer that our prayers, righteous giving, and turning to others, inward to ourselves, and to God, lessen the severity of whatever has been decreed for the coming year. Our efforts at this time cannot erase the tremendous loss our people is experiencing or bring those who have been killed back, but it can nourish our souls and help us direct our efforts to provide some measure of healing, comfort, and support.

With prayers for healing and comfort, a speedy and safe return of the hostages, and for peace and security,

Rabbi London