Through October 6, when asked for a gift to Jewish Federation many donors would respond, “ok, as long as none of my gift goes to Israel.” As of October 7, we’ve seen a major paradigm shift with donors, as well as people who have never donated to the Jewish Federation before, giving incredibly generous gifts exclusively to support Israel.
We have learned many lessons on and since October 7. I will focus on three of them:
1. Becoming crystal clear to me, is that American Jewry must live in safe, secure, prosperous, engaged, educated, compassionate, and supported Jewish communities. We must have strong relations with elected officials and interfaith partners. To the extent possible, we must be able to speak with a strong and unified voice. We must be visible and proud. Our annual campaign ensures that this happens.
2. A lesson that we learned a long time ago, but have been reminded of these past few weeks, is “im ein ani li, mi li?—if I am not for myself, who will be for me?” In addition to being our ancestral homeland, Israel is the safe haven for every Jew. Our refugees from the Middle Eastern countries who expelled us, our Holocaust survivors, our released refuseniks, our Ethiopian communities, and many others over the years who would have had no where else to turn were able to immigrate to Israel. This ideal for Israel transcends any and all governments. Our annual campaign ensures that this happens.
3. Lesson number three is that lessons one and two are inseparable and it is our responsibility to make sure that we do it all:
- For over 100 years, even before Israel’s independence, Jewish Federations have been a pillar of support for the Jewish State. We helped build her communities, strengthen her society, and have always been there to support her during her most difficult hours.
- We rescue Jews from anywhere in the world to immigrate to Israel and help with their absorption and resettlement when they get there.
- We must have a strong local community that understands and cares about our global responsibilities. Without the local infrastructure, we could not do what we need to do.
And so, this brings us to Super Sunday this weekend. We need to step up this year in a big way and we do not have the luxury of saying, “not to Israel” or “only to Israel.” We must support everything. Please answer Sunday’s call for the annual campaign. And please offer more to support Israel during her emergency time of need.