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My Heart is in the East


As I explained last Friday in the voice message that I sent out, in my Shabbat morning drasha, and at the beginning of my Monday night class, I’m a cocktail of emotions. I feel sadness, grief, shock, inspiration, rage, solidarity, admiration, and pride. Plus, add to that, fear of the unknown. 

As of this moment, Israel has yet to commence its ground attack to root out Hamas. Based on what I know, from the 50+ people in Israel I’ve been in contact with so far, the army has rebounded and has never been more ready to confront and destroy Hamas. 

It is very noteworthy that the American government has shown unprecedented material and moral support for Israel. And the President’s personal support has been outstanding. Hopefully, this support will not falter in the face of opposition from various sectors. 

The truth is, there’s even more that America can do to help without endangering any American soldiers. It can use its might to persuade Arab countries to:

  1. Temporarily accept refugees (see this article by Jeff Jacoby).
  2. Obtain the release of at least the women, children, and elderly hostages. 
  3. Lastly, to continue intimidating both Iran and Hezbollah from entering the fray. 

Being both a passionate Israeli and American, I can’t just sit by during these trying times and not do something I feel is consequential. Therefore, I plan on flying to Israel for a few weeks. There are countless opportunities to be of assistance to people with various needs. Plus, paying visits to the endless number of bereaved families. I’m sure that many of you (if not all of you) would like to go and help as well, I’ll be your “shaliach,” your agent. Everywhere I go, I will tell people that I was sent by our community to demonstrate that we are with you.   

While in Israel, I intend to have an 8:00pm Thursday night Zoom meeting for our community to share with you what I’ve experienced and answer questions. 

The only way that I would leave for a few weeks is if the Shul wouldn’t be adversely impacted. As many of you know, my eldest daughter, Malki, her husband, Yonatan, and seven children came from Israel to celebrate Sukkot with us and are currently stuck here in SF since United has canceled all their flights to Israel. This being the case, my son in-law, Rabbi Yonatan Pachas, will take over during my absence. Yonatan has studied and taught the entire Talmud, written a weekly parasha column for years (which may become a book), is a gifted speaker and a good ba’al korei and tefilla. I couldn’t be leaving the Shul in better hands (I hope I’m still wanted here after I return). 

As far as those of us not flying to Israel - we must show support financially. There are many worthwhile places to donate much needed funds to meet the many needs facing Israel, the IDF, and Israelis in crisis. For example:

In addition, we must also show support personally. Reach out to your family and friends in Israel – even those who you are not regularly in contact with – and share words of care, support, and concern.

For more information on how you can show your support to our family in Israel, please read this article from Rabbi Efrem Goldberg.