Dear Beth Yam Congregant,
I am writing to you today regarding the events in Israel and in the Gaza strip. It is absolutely clear to Israel and to most of the world that this current situation was initiated by the terrorist organization, Hamas, along with the Iranians. The President of the United States, Barak Obama, has spoken clearly of his support for Israel’s right and its responsibility to defend itself. The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, was brilliant in his defense of Israel during an interview last night on CNN. He said that all that has to happen is for Hamas to stop launching missiles against Israel. He explained that Israel takes no pleasure in the casualties that result from Israeli responses to Hamas missiles and that Israel wants peace with its neighbors more than anything else. All we in Hilton Head can now do is to pray and focus our thoughts and prayers that responsible parties can broker a cessation of violence. Sadly it will take more than prayer to achieve peace but for us it is what we should be doing at this hour here in Hilton Head.
Let’s not forget that we have congregants who are Israelis and who are in Israel right now. They are young families in our Temple and are dedicated and involved in Beth Yam. They too deserve our support and our prayers should go out to them and their loved ones in Israel. We also have at least ten additional families who are members of our Temple and who have children living in Israel. Some have reported to me by email that their children have been called up to active duty. Needless to say their anxiety and fear is real and palpable. Many more of us have friends and relatives living in Israel and we are equally worried for them as well. I encourage all of us to make contact with these members of the congregation and show our support to them and do whatever we can to provide them with comfort and hope during these dangerous times.
Finally, we are all getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally this is a time of celebrating all our blessings and giving thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. I hope that each of us, whether we are hosting a dinner or are invited guests at someone’s house, will offer words of prayer for peace. In addition the Union of Reform Judaism has initiated a Terrorist Relief Fund for Israelis who are victims of terrorist attacks from Gaza. Please go to urj.org and you can make a donation.
Here is a prayer from a 13 year old girl named Shulamit Grossberg. Please consider reading this prayer at your Thanksgiving table.
WHAT SHALL I ASK of You, God?
I have all I need; I lack not a thing.
And I ask not for me alone, but for many mothers, children and fathers.
And not only in this land but also in strange and enemy lands.
I wish to ask You for peace. Yes, peace I want,
And I know You will not refuse a single request from a young girl.
You created a Land of Peace and in it is the City of Peace,
In which stood a Temple of Peace;
but peace has not come yet . . .
What shall I ask of You, God?
Haven’t I all that I need?
I will ask only for peace,
Shlomit Grossberg, age 1
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all of Israel. God bless Israel and give it strength, courage, and fortitude to meet the challenges it faces at this hour.
Rabbi Brad L. Bloom M.S. W. D.D.