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News Highlights A Time to Speak: Standing in Solidarity with Israel

By Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
Sharon Cohen Anisfled speaking at Israel Solidarity rally on Boston Common

Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld delivered this prayer at the event  “Gathering in Solidarity With Israel Under Fire” on October 9, 2023 on the Boston Common. The Greater Boston community-wide gathering was co-sponsored by CJP, JCRC, IAC, Hebrew College, and many other community organizations throughout New England. 

Beloved community.

Over these last two heartbreaking and harrowing days,
these words from the Book of Ecclesiastes have been reverberating in my mind:
Et lachashot v’et l’daber.
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

How do we know when it is time to be silent and when it is time to speak?

In this moment, a part of me trembles and feels:

Perhaps now is a time to be silent.
To resist the rush to language that would make sense out of such senselessness.
To let ourselves feel speechless in the face of such unspeakable horror.
To be humbled by the inadequacy of our words to touch the pain that so many are feeling.

But then I hear from loved ones in Israel and they say:
Thank you. It matters that you call. It matters to hear your voices. It matters to know you are with us.
And I know that now is indeed a time to speak. Precisely now.

It is time to come together to offer our full-throated prayers
for all those who are grieving,
those who are wounded,
those who are sick with worry for their missing loved ones
those who have been kidnapped, please God, may they be returned safely home.

Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, matir asurim.
Blessed are You Adonai, Sovereign of the Universe, who releases those who are imprisoned.

It is also time to come together to say clearly and loudly words like those shared by Yona Shem-Tov, Executive Director of Encounter, last night. Yona has dedicated her life to seeking a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a commitment to the dignity, security, and rights of all parties.

Last night, Yona wrote: “Attacking civilians is a war crime. Full stop. Kidnapping civilians is a war crime. Full stop. There can be no justification for what has unfolded since the early hours of Shabbat. Hamas must be condemned without reservation. Full stop.”

These words of unequivocal condemnation
are also words that need to be spoken aloud right now —
by Jews and non-Jews alike.
They must be spoken by those of us who will continue to speak out
for the cause of human dignity, and for peace.
It is the only way we can continue to do so with integrity.

I know that so many of us are feeling heartsick and unmoored.
In the face of our sense of helplessness,
it is all too easy for us to weaponize our words against each other.
One word to the left, one word to the right can feel like a betrayal, an unbridgeable gulf.
Please let us not turn our words against each other.
In this time of still unfolding terror, may we turn toward one another with love.
May we choose our words carefully and with compassion.
May we resist the temptation to despair.

.ה’ עז לעמו יתן, ה’ יברך את עמו בשלום
May God grant us strength and peace.

President Anisfeld also was featured in the October 10, 2023 issue of The Algemeiner article about the event entitled, “Thousands, including Progressive Politicians, Rally in Boston to Back Israel” and the October 11, 2023 JewishBoston article entitled, “Gathering in Solidarity with Israel Under Fire.” (Feature Photo by Kayana Szymczak.)

How to Take Action Now

Below, please find a few of the ways you can take action to support Israeli citizens and soldiers.

CJP Israel Emergency Fund
CJP has opened an emergency fund to provide immediate financial assistance and relief to victims of terror and war. 100% of donations will go toward supporting victims of terror and addressing the unprecedented levels of trauma caused by these horrific attacks. Donate Now

Emergency Fund for Urgent Needs of Israeli Soldiers
Sponsored by Rabbi Tamar El-Ad Appelbaum of Kehilat Zion in Jerusalem
A fund to help to ensure that IDF soldiers have the critical equipment they need to succeed and stay safe in the combat that awaits them. Funds will help provide tactical needs such equipment, including helmets, bullet-proof vests as well as supplies such as clothing, head lamps, food and other items important for the IDF’s success and morale. Donate Now


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