Beloved ACI Friends,

This past week has been one of incredible pain and stress, and it can feel difficult to impossible to do anything to change the horrific events that took place in Israel or the trying times yet to come. However, I would like to make a few small suggestions on how you can focus your attention during this time:

  1. Pray: Of course, we should always pray for Israel, but challenging times require that we focus on our prayers in particular ways. I recommend this special prayer for prisoners and captives, or Psalm 121. We will be adding these prayers during Shabbat services for the foreseeable future. In particular, I hope you will give special attention to Omer Neutra, a former student of mine from the Schechter School of Long Island, who joined the Israeli army and was taken captive by Hamas.
  2. Learn: As I mentioned during the Yamim Noraim, starting on Mondays in November, ACI will be learning around Israel through the iEngage program of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. You can sign up here. While this class was scheduled before the outbreak of the war, this issue and others will come up a great deal during our learning.
  3. Talk: For parents, your children will naturally have questions, and it can be hard to know how to answer. This webinar from the Jewish Education Project is a great place to start.
  4. Donate: While there are many worthy places to donate, I feel particularly moved at this time to donate to Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), Natal (the Israeli Trauma Center), and Zaka (Israel’s Search and Rescue Service).
  5. Understand: During this time, many organizations will communicate with you on social media and email, and it can be hard to sift through which communications are most relevant. I recommend focusing on the daily podcast from The Times of Israel, communications of Home Front Command, the public relations website of the IDF, and the Community Security Initiative (CSI), which provides support and security services to Jewish organizations in New York 365 days a year and provides crucial information when there are additional concerns about security.

During these times, I encourage each of us to remember that people need our support in many and varied ways, and be extra attentive to one another during this time. As they say in Jewish tradition, Gam Ze Ya’avor, this too shall pass, but in the meantime, Hazak Ve’Ematz, be strong and brave.

Hazak Ve’Ematz,

Rabbi Josh

Astoria Center of Israel is a not for profit, 501(c)(3) organization.

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