Day 15: Update from Israel

July 22, 2014
Dear Colleagues,

We heard updates last week on the situation in Israel from our partners at The Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT. Today, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism, shares his thoughts with us. Following his message are two reflections about life on the ground from Israelis.

Jerry Silverman
President and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America

From Rabbi Gilad Kariv
Executive Director, Israel Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism

Today is a sad day. I am heading to Modi’in for the funeral of Lt. Col. Dolev Kedar, a 38-year-old commander of the Gefen Battalion who was killed in Gaza on Monday. Ten years ago, I had the honor of officiating at Dolev’s wedding. When I spoke with him that day, I was impressed by his upstanding character and humbled by his commitment to protecting the Jewish State. He had so much life ahead of him. May his memory be a blessing for his family, friends and for all Israelis.

As I grieve for Dolev and the other innocents who have perished, I am struck by how, during my 15 years with the Reform movement in Israel, we have become skilled—however unfortunately—at responding to crises. The growing Reform network—which includes 50 synagogues and community centers and thousands of rabbis and Jewish educators—reaches tens of thousands of Israelis every year.

Today, with JFNA leadership, we have seen a new level of cooperation. Our work together is helping to meet the needs of our entire nation, including those who are most vulnerable: children in shelters, the sick, the elderly and the disabled.

As we continue to watch over our brothers and sisters, I thank our JFNA partners for their support.

From Ravit Elia-Leib in Beer Sheva:"In my home, we make games out of the experience and try, to the greatest extent possible, to maintain routines. Last weekend, I was traveling in Beer Sheva with my 6-year-old son, Itai, in our car, when the siren went off. I pulled over, and, to make things more positive for him, told him we’re going to have a race. We ran to the nearest stairwell.

“Suddenly Itai began to cry and I asked him why. He said, ‘I didn’t really win. You were running in high heels and that slowed you down.’ I suppose that was his excuse for letting out his fears and how hard it is for him."

From an Israeli living on the Gaza border:The IDF has uncovered dozens of tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel from Gaza—tunnels that lead right to kibbutzim and towns along the border. Fear, anxiety and stress plague border residents. "I'm sitting outside the resilience center wondering if a tunnel is being dug right under my feet as we speak," says one crisis response team coordinator. Calls to trauma centers in the area have spiked, and those who have evacuated to the north express hardships, anger, shame and guilt over leaving.

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