Bearing witness and supporting our fellow Jews

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
TJP Editor and Publisher

Editor’s note: This week, the TJP has dedicated most of its coverage to the recent Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Solidarity Mission to Israel, spanning Feb. 19-22. Editor and Publisher Sharon Wisch-Ray joined the 48-member delegation and she provides her thoughts and emotions here for the TJP readers.

Since the attacks of Oct. 7, the TJP’s efforts have been dedicated to delivering crucial information to the community through print, online and our weekday newsletter.

At times, there have been some aspects of the Oct. 7 massacre that have been hard to articulate. On Nov. 9, I was invited to the Israel Consulate in Houston to view the first Texas showing of the government’s 37-minute footage of the Oct. 7 atrocities. I was one of nine people who showed up for that screening. The low turnout was puzzling to me as the consulate sent an invitation to many more press members and community officials. I walked away from watching those horrific images with mixed emotions: anger, sadness and anxiety.

Anger for obvious reasons. To see the glee with which the Hamas terrorists murdered our people simply because they were Jews enraged me. One terrorist’s phone call to his parents from his victim’s phone has been widely reported and it stands out to me as well.

“Mom, your son is a hero,” he says in Arabic. “I killed 10 Jews with my bare hands, 10 Jews.”

His parents bless him and encourage him to do more of the same. You can hear in their voices how proud they are of their murderous son. What kind of culture encourages this sentiment? It baffles me, but I quickly understood the rage my 20-something sons were feeling as they watched these horrors unfold in real time on social media Oct. 7.

Sadness because of the extreme pain left in the wake of these barbaric atrocities. Seeing the babies who were murdered wearing their Mickey Mouse and butterfly pajamas … how many times had I put my own children to bed, their crib of safety, in their Sponge Bob or Scooby Doo PJs. The young men and women who were massacred at the SuperNova music festival … how many similar concerts had my own children attended? JMBLA, Austin City Limits, Coachella? They attended to enjoy one of our universal languages — music — without a care in the world or worrying that they could be murdered by bloodthirsty terrorists.

Anxiety because I wasn’t sure how to write about what I saw in a way that would do justice for the victims of these unspeakable crimes.

Two months later, on Jan. 9, the Israel Consulate brought the footage to Dallas. I went to see it again. Perhaps it would help me share what I’d seen and could bear witness to. I still struggled to write about what I’d seen in the TJP. However, I had been talking to people about it in-person already. That is, those who wanted to know about it.

There are so many who don’t.

So, as the mission began, I was apprehensive to visit the sites from the footage I’d seen. Being there was intense and at times overwhelming. But, at the same time, it strengthened my resolve to serve our Jewish community both in North Texas and around the world and for the TJP to stand unequivocally with Israel.

After being in Israel last month, it wasn’t lost on me that if I lived there, my three sons, ages 28, 23 and 19, would most certainly be serving in the military right now. I’m sure my anxiety and fear would be of a different sort. We Jews in America often take for granted the sacrifices that our fellow Jews in Israel make to keep all of us safe.

Bearing witness, speaking the truth and standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel, that was our mission.

It is only the beginning.

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