Statements to the community from local Jewish organizations sent via email the since Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists.
From Igor Alterman, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas CEO, and Dot Hayman, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board chair:
Once again, on a holy day of the Jewish calendar, the people of Israel have come under attack. Once again, the brave military forces of the State of Israel are responding and will defend our beloved Jewish state. And once again the Jewish communities of North America stand in total and complete solidarity with our Israeli brethren.
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) prays for their safety and will do everything we can to ensure the complete and total success of their efforts. And once again the Jewish Federations across North America will act immediately and comprehensively to support our brothers and sisters as they defend Israel.
The prayer for the State of Israel we recite in synagogue every week – including this morning – says ונתת שלום בארץ ושמחת עולם ליושביה – “Grant peace in the land and happiness to all its residents.” On this day, which is the holiday of Simchat Torah in Israel – we literally sing and dance with simcha – with happiness. Today is not a day of simcha in Israel, but it is a day of solidarity, determination, and utmost seriousness.
To provide resources to the Jewish Dallas community, JFGD is coordinating with Jewish Federations of North America to announce a webinar addressing this escalation. An email update, as well as posts on our social media channels, will provide further details.
Israel will prevail and the Jewish people will stand together as we always do.
Am Yisrael Chai!
From Barry Abels, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County executive director
Please forgive me for sending this message on Shabbat and a Chag. Israel is again under attack and in a large way. Yesterday I came to Houston to spend time with my 92-year-old parents and take care of important business with them. My nephew, a medic in the IDF, has been visiting this week. Last night, like so many young people, he was checking his phone when news began rolling in about hundreds of rockets raining down on Israel (later to be estimated to be over 5000) and then seeing video of trucks full of terrorists driving through southern towns and villages shooting, wounding, and killing civilians randomly. We even saw one video of terrorists dancing around a dead person.
My brother and his family live in Ashkelon and are in the line of fire. Thankfully for now they are safe and have their shelter. Please see the message below from JFNA. Soon there will be an opportunity to provide support for those whose homes are being destroyed, and for those wounded and more. We will do our best to keep you informed. This attack has been likened to the Yom Kippur War due to its being a surprise and scope of the attack. Let us all hope and pray that we see a swift ending to this attack.
Once again, on a holy day of the Jewish calendar, the people of Israel have come under attack. Once again, the brave military forces of the State of Israel are responding and will defend our beloved Jewish state. And once again the Jewish communities of North America stand in total and complete solidarity with our Israeli brethren. We pray for their safety and will do everything we can to ensure the complete and total success of their efforts. And once again the Jewish Federations across North America will act immediately and comprehensively to support our brothers and sisters as they defend Israel.
The prayer for the State of Israel we recite in synagogue every week – including this morning – says ונתת שלום בארץ ושמחת עולם ליושביה – “Grant peace in the land and happiness to all its residents.” On this day, which is the holiday of Simchat Torah in Israel — we literally sing and dance with simcha — with happiness. Today is not a day of simcha in Israel, but it is a day of solidarity, determination and utmost seriousness.
Israel will prevail and the Jewish people will stand together as we always so. Am Yisrael Chai.
From Rabbis Ari Sunshine, Adam Roffman and Shira Wallach, Congregation Shearith Israel
Dear Shearith Family,
On what is, no doubt, one of the darkest days in Israel’s history, we break our custom of not sending electronic communication over Shabbat to share the anguish of our broken hearts as we mourn the loss of at least 200 souls of our brothers and sisters, murdered in cold blood by a godless evil. Our hearts ache too, knowing that more than 1000 have been injured and that untold numbers, both alive and dead, were kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to Gaza.
This morning, as we grieved together at Shabbat and Yom Tov services, we tried to take stock both of the enormity of our sorrow and and the incredulous anger that, fifty years and one day after the Egyptian invasion of Sinai on Yom Kippur, our enemies have again desecrated a time so sacred to our people. While here in America, the day of rejoicing with the Torah does not begin until this evening, in Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined into one day of celebration. In Sderot, in Ashkelon, in Tel Aviv, while thousands poured into the street dancing and singing, shouting “Am Yisrael Chai!,” a wicked, cowardly band of men waited in the dark with guns and rockets and bulldozers, determined to continue their quest to extinguish the 4,000-year-old bond between our people and our holy land.
By taking us by surprise, in a shocking act of hatred, they have cost us life and limb. But they will never, never, ever succeed in their despicable plot to silence us as we sing the ancient song of our God and of our Torah.
And so, this evening, we will continue onwards with our planned observance of Simchat Torah. We will gather again tomorrow morning, hundreds strong, in celebration of our Trees of Life: our sacred Torah scrolls and our magnificent new David A. Segal z”l Family Simcha Play Center. Our voices will be somewhat muted with grief, reciting only half of our Hallel service, in memory of the fallen. But our full-throated cries of Am Yisrael Chai, may the Jewish people and may the State of Israel live on, forever and ever, will pierce the darkness cast upon us.
As always, we stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We pray for the safety of the Israel Defense Forces who, at this moment of great peril, are working to restore the fragile peace in our Holy Land. We cry out to God to send us comfort and healing among all the mourners of Zion.
And we pray that the memories of those who fell today will always be remembered as a blessing.
See you in shul.
From Rabbis Brian Zimmerman and Ralph Mecklenburger, Beth El Congregation:
Dear Beth-El Family,
I’m sorry to interrupt your Shabbat with an e-mail but like me, you may be watching or reading about the tragic events unfolding in Israel.
As I went to bed late last night, I was horrified to see the first news stories of thousands of missiles heading from the Gaza Strip into Israel proper. Only now, is the full picture becoming clear.
We now know that hundreds of Israelis have been killed, many taken hostage and thousands more wounded. We know that the response from Israel while completely justified, will surely lead to more death and destruction on both sides. This is not a terrorist attack but a full scale declaration of war again the very existence of a country.
This is tragic for so many reasons.
Tragic because there will be many more casualties. Our hearts are with the Israeli families who must once more experience the trauma of fleeing into shelters and awaiting word of the fate of loved ones.
Tragic because it was planned fifty years to the date of the Yom Kippur War. This attack also takes place during Simchat Torah, a time of rejoicing and giving thanks for Torah, the core of our faith. Hamas knew exactly what a declaration of war on this date signified. It is an act of aggression against a whole religion not just a particular government or country.
Tragic because Israel is facing serious challenges, and once again, violence will put those important decisions and conversations on hold.
Tragic because whatever the intent of our enemies, there are surely many innocent people in the Gaza Strip who did not take part in the planning and execution of this newest deadly action. They will also suffer great devastation and personal loss due to leadership decisions made for them without their input.
Here at Beth-El Congregation, we were just beginning to have the types of serious and thoughtful conversations that American Jews must have as we confront complex challenges in our sacred relationship to Israel.
Tragic, because any real and thoughtful conversations much be put on hold once again, and any nuance of the conversation is once again lost.
At this moment, on this Shabbat of Simchat Torah, we pray for the health and safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel.
We think of those in our own congregation who have family and friends in Israel. We think of all who wait in fear for news of their loved ones.
At this moment, if you have friends in this congregation or anywhere, who have loved ones in Israel, it is a Mitzvah to check in on them.
Let us offer words of caring, strength, and love so they know that they are not alone.
We pray for our brothers and sisters in Israel.
We pray also for those citizens in the West Bank, who may have done nothing to initiate and had no knowledge of this attack but are also suffering from the consequences of tragic decisions.
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו
Oseh Shalom Bimromav,
May there be peace soon for Israel and for all those who dwell there.
Rabbi Brian Zimmerman
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger
From Temple Emanu-El Rabbi David Stern and Bob Krakow, president
We are devastated by the news of the Hamas attack on Israel on Shabbat and Simchat Torah, our joy interrupted by terror. Temple Emanu-El joins with our government and Jewish community in condemning the attacks. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel, the members of our community with friends and family in Israel, and with all who cherish peace. As events continue to unfold, we will be in touch with you about opportunities to respond.
On this sacred day, may we come together in hope and prayer for the safety of our Israeli community and for the swift resolution of the conflict.
Rabbi David Stern
From Congregation Anshai Torah Rabbis Stefan Weinberg and Michael Kushnick and Beth Berk, president
Dear Anshai Family,
Normally, we would not send a note on Yom Tov. However, these are not normal times, and we want to be in touch with you, our Anshai Torah family.
By now you are all aware of the horror happening in Israel. We woke up to early morning news of a series of calculated attacks by Hamas which have led to the tragic death, injury, and kidnapping of far too many Israelis. At this moment, the situation remains very dynamic as several communities near the southern border with Gaza are occupied by Hamas terrorists.
While the IDF is hard at work to fight Hamas, we are left wondering what we can do here. The first thing we can do is pray. Our schedule of daily services is on our website. Join us in person or virtually. We need each other as much as we need to express our prayers to God.
Leaders from all over the world have condemned these attacks, and we are left wondering if they will help Israel. We too can help Israel. We can donate to AIPAC, Israel Bonds, AJC, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and more. Social media is exploding with another round of antisemitic activity. We need to give our children the support, information, and guidance needed to ensure they have the tools to navigate this next phase of the enduring challenge.
Last night we were honored with the presence of an outstanding and dynamic speaker- Dara Horn. Seemingly prophetic, she addressed our BBYOers by saying ‘don’t disappear. Don’t become erasure Jews!” Today, that message applies to every one of us. Israel is under attack, and it can feel very lonely. Israel needs to feel our presence. Israel needs to know we have her back. Now is the time to announce, resolutely that we are proud Jews who support Israel. We will not back down, and terrorists will not win.
Security is always our top priority at Anshai Torah. We have been in contact with the Plano Police Department and the FBI. There are no indications suggesting any threat to Jewish institutions in the US. Please know that security will be stepped up for the foreseeable future, and we will continue to work closely with and take direction from Plano Police and the FBI. Do not be afraid to come to the building to pray, learn, and gather.
Tomorrow morning our Simchat Torah celebration continues at 9:00am It seems almost ironic that we are singing and dancing while our family in Israel is suffering. Yet, this festival celebrating the core of our identity- the Torah- is precisely what continues to shape us, inspire us, and guide us. While our extended family is hunkered down in bomb shelters throughout Israel unable to sing and dance and celebrate let us do so, for we are one- Am Yisrael!
As we said this morning during Musaf, “’v’Hah’see’ay’nu Adonay…- Grant us the blessing of Your festivals, Lord our God, for life and peace, for joy and gladness.”
Ken yehi ratzon
From Levine Academy Head of School, Tom Elieff
Dear Levine Community,
We begin this message with a heartfelt apology for breaking our tradition of not sending communications over yom tov. We understand the importance of this tradition; however, recent events compel us to reach out to you during this time.
In light of the distressing images emanating from Israel, depicting the deadliest attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago, we wanted to take a moment to reflect upon one of Levine’s core educational philosophies: Zionism. Our school community has long upheld a deep and abiding connection with Israel, embracing its people, culture, and language. Levine stands firmly with Israel now more than ever.
Over the years, many of our former colleagues and alumni have chosen to make Aliyah to Israel, with some now serving in the Israel Defense Forces. To them, we wish “Hazzak V’Amatz,” be strong and courageous.
As we say in the weekly prayer for the IDF:
May God grant Israel salvation and crown them with victory, and May God fulfill for them the verse:
“כי ה׳ אלהיכם ההולך עמכם להלחם לכם עם אויביהם להושיע אתכם”
“For it is Adonai your God who goes with you to battle your enemies to save you” (Deut. 20:4).
We pray for the safety of all our families and friends currently living in Israel. Our hearts and prayers are with them during these trying times. We are here to offer personal support, providing the warm embrace of our community as we grieve and support one another during these difficult moments.
As always, our school’s leadership team remains in close contact with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Department of Community Security Initiative Director, Bill Humphrey, to ensure that we know about any local or regional concerns moving forward.
As we return to school on Tuesday, October 10, we humbly request that all students, faculty/staff, and families join us in wearing blue and white as a symbol of solidarity with Israel and the global Jewish community.
Am Yisrael Chai
From Congregation Ahavath Sholom Rabbi Andrew Bloom, Cantor Paul Dorman and Hal Ratner, president
Dear CAS Family,
We begin this message with an apology for deviating from our practice of not sending out emails on Shabbat or Chagim. However, the situation in Israel is one of Pikuach Nefesh (life-threatening) and we feel the urgency to update our congregants and offer a path to assist our Israeli brethren in this time of war.
As of now, the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas has already brought about at minimum, 700 Israelis murdered, 2040 injured, 170 missing and 100 kidnapped and being held hostage. These numbers are expected to unfortunately rise.
These are our sons, daughters, grandparents, parents, siblings, friends, soldiers, first responders, and tourists just to name a few. Each one of them just wanted to live in peace and was brutally attacked by an unprovoked and coordinated Hamas terrorist offensive.
Many of us would like to donate but do not know where. We would like to offer up the following link to the Israel Magen Fund. They are asking for donations of helmets, body gear, medical kits, and many other forms of assistance. Below you can find a link to the organization. Please consider donating.
We will be updating you often as to what we can do, what the community is organizing, and how we can react. In the meantime, our prayers are with the State of Israel and its citizens.
May God protect them under the Shadow of His Wings.
From DATA of Plano Director Rabbi Nasanya Zakon
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
By now, you must have seen every piece of news of the tragedies unfolding in Israel. You might have debated how Israel will respond and perhaps discussed the Israeli intelligence lapse.
Wringing our hands and watching endless news cycles is counterproductive. If you are like me, you are asking yourself what can I do? So I would like to humbly propose a few “do’s and don’ts”.
First, let us get the “don’t” items out of the way:
- Do not watch graphic videos related to the kidnappings and captivity of Jewish souls being held in Gaza. I beg you to share with your children, even adults, that the majesty of man, the essence of our soul, demands we not watch every video society tells us is a “must-see”. Rise above the news cycle and preserve your dignity and the dignity of our brothers and sisters and do not watch everything. It is spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically detrimental to our health.
- Don’t pontificate, blame, or focus on the negatives that are out of our control. Now more than ever, the Jewish people need unity, support, and positive action.
And now the do’s:
•An attack on our Jewish brethren hits us hard, especially an attack of this magnitude. As believing Jews, our first response to a threat or tragedy is prayer. Specific prayers that can be said in the face of such an event include Psalms chapters 20, 83, 121, 130, 91 and 142. Let us pour out our hearts to our compassionate Father in Heaven to protect Am Yisrael.
•Commit to a spiritual upgrade in the merit of keeping Israel and her soldiers safe. Choose a mitzvah performance or a way to enhance one you already have taken on. Especially powerful in times like this is peace and harmony among our communities and families. Might I suggest that we each identify a person or area in our life about which we are holding onto “baggage” and work towards forgiving and letting go.
May the Guardian of Israel hold us tight in his protective embrace, and may we know peace and tranquility very soon.