As I write this message as President of Temple Israel, we are experiencing much horror and trauma as we witness the latest war in Israel. While we feel such sadness and disbelief, I have seen such an outpouring of so much comfort from our clergy, staff, and members that it makes me so appreciative to be a member of this community. Furthermore, numerous members of our extensive community: friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers….continue to lend support.
Immediately following the Hamas attack the well-attended “We Stand with Israel” rally held at the Friedman JCC clearly and unambiguously illustrates the overwhelming support. We do have many friends, good people of moral conscience who see us and support us. On December 10th we collaborated with local synagogues and the Friedman JCC to promote the Benefit for Israel at Diamond City Vault Bar & Grill in Wilkes-Barre. The owner, Sam Syla, though not Jewish himself, is an immigrant. Syla was moved by the terror inflicted upon Israel and wanted to do something to help. “My family is very fortunate to be part of such an incredible community in Wilkes-Barre. I feel this is the least we can do to help families in Israel in this time of need,” said Syla.
Paul Lantz and Jeff Davidowitz chaired a community wide fundraiser for JFNA’s Israel Emergency Relief Fund. We are truly grateful to all who contributed. Between their efforts and the Benefit for Israel, over $150,000 was raised.
Our proudest distinction in life should be our Jewish identity. Now more than ever, we must not live in isolation from each other. The Community Chanukah Celebration was held in the Cohen Social Hall of the Friedman JCC. Our Midrasha students and parents gathered to celebrate the holiday with friends and members from throughout the community. The night was filled with warmth and the light of many menorahs…and of course latkes and donuts too.
Also, the sense of “chesed” amongst all who participated in the return of our First Responder Appreciation initiative was heartwarming. Todah Rabah to our sponsors and volunteers.
I understand and sympathize with those who are anxious about attending synagogue. As your President, I can assure you that numerous steps have been taken to safeguard our beloved spiritual home, Temple Israel. Sitting in our synagogue, surrounded by fellow Jews, is an act of both trust and pride. By not attending Shabbat services out of fear or rationalizing that by sitting home you will be safe from the world…hate wins…extremists win…terrorists win. We should attend Shabbat services because if not, we lose something precious about who we are and who we want to be in the world, and how we want the world to see us. Shabbat should be a day for Jewish gathering and connectivity. While it might be difficult to honor these Jewish ideals … right now….at this crucial point in time…it is imperative that we try. I sincerely hope to see you in Shul.