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, Jewish Federations across North America will act immediately and comprehensively to support our brothers and sisters as they defend Israel.
Jewish Federations’ partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, and the Israel Trauma Coalition, are addressing needs on the ground. The Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terror is providing immediate financial support to families whose homes were directly hit by rocket fire and is helping them with urgent needs.
Our Israel Emergency Fund is directing additional resources for this critical moment:
The blue ribbon symbolizes support and solidarity for the safe return of the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists in Israel. It symbolizes solidarity with the hostages, their families, and all who care about their safety.
Wear Your #BlueRibbonsforIsrael: Communities and leaders across North America are wearing their blue ribbons in solidarity with the hostages taken by Hamas in Israel and their families.
Advocate for Israel: Please urge your elected officials at the federal, state, and local level to speak out and make a clear and unequivocal statement in support for our ally Israel, and its right to defend itself. ACT NOW!
Donate: Israel needs the support of our local community. The national goal is set at $500 million and Northeastern New York's set goal for the Israel Emergency line is $2.1M. Every single dollar counts. Please give generously. DONATE NOW!
On the morning of October 7, 2023, Hamas led a simultaneous wave of assaults on Israeli civilian communities and military posts. The dawn attack began when Hamas launched over 5,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, then used these strategic barrages as cover to breach the border. In this massive surprise onslaught on southern Israel, Hamas terrorists committed unfathomable atrocities that have reverberated globally.
The attacks claimed the lives of more than 1,194 individuals, of which 843 of the identified bodies are civilians. They left over 4,834 wounded, and resulted in 239 people being taken hostage. Additionally, some of the bodies remain unidentified due to substantial mutilation.
Use this interactive map to visit the attack sites, learn the facts, and view the horrors.
Updates from Eshkol, Our Partnership2Gether Region
Our own Partnership Region of Eshkol has sustained serious anguish. Many of our colleagues, friends, and families have been murdered, taken, or are missing. On Saturday our team received a text from our Partnership Region Director Tali Roitman who shared:
“We are in the midst of one of the most difficult security incidents we have ever known, and since this morning we have been under a criminal terrorist attack the likes of which we have never known. Neighborhoods surrounding Gaza, kibbutzim and moshavim, maintain a stubborn fight with the aim of repelling the terrorists who entered villages and houses, committed crimes, killed, kidnapped people while they were sleeping, vandalized and looted property. Despite the unimaginable difficulty and the pain from the heavy losses we suffered, we make every effort to act together and help each other, until our forces regain control of the situation. We are all in pain and at the same time are currently focusing on one thing: Protect ourselves and our communities. We thank the emergency classes and the residents who fight valiantly to protect our home. We will pray for the peace of the security forces, who are now going to battle to restore security at the border and for the safety of all the abducted and missing persons. God willing, we will soon be able to return to the days of inner and outer peace in our region and in the whole country. The great concern of the international Jewish community warms our hearts and strengthens us. The world's support for Israel is overwhelming.”
She went on to share that her own mother in law was missing and that our dear friend Juddih Hagai and her husband Gadi are still missing. They went for a walk in the early morning as they do every day, and, as it became clear something was amiss, her daughter texted her to check in. Her last text to her child was “We’re outside. Face down in the field. We see tons of rockets” and then her location. She was 2kms from her home at kibbutz Nir Oz and hasn’t been heard from since.
Thankfully, some members of the region were able to hide and/or were rescued once their villages were cleared of threats or be relocated to the emergency centers in Eilat and elsewhere. Our partnership Director Tali is in Eilat now, helping to sort through the chaos while her son and husband stay back in their town to guard it. To use the words of Dana Kozlofsky, one of our partnership teachers in Eshkol, who shared her thoughts with our team on Sunday,
“There are no words to describe the hell we are in. Finally, after 40 hours of being besieged the army evacuated us last night so we reached Eilat at 4am. My family, we are all afraid and devastated, we lost friends, I lost students. I have horror stories that only Satan can think of.”
Update from Tali on 10/10:
"Hi, days are crazy. Logistics it becomes easier every day. Emotional it becomes more challenging. Time makes it real. People talk about what happened and ask about their future. Nir Oz is not a place that one can live in. It will take a long time to build up everything...
We are working for 3 days on mapping the kibbutz population. About 20 are dead and 60 are missing. The whole population is about 350. This in Nir Oz. Is there he whole region about 150 missing. No idea about dead. I know that the total is about 1,000 dead including soldiers and rockets attacks.
I don’t want to be brutal, but you can’t say that someone dead if you don’t have the body. We got film from Facebook and telegram that you see that Hamas holds the body and you still consider it as missing.
I couldn’t imagine it in my worst dreams.
Thank you all so much. I wish we would not need it. Unfortunately, I admit that every cent will be meaningful for the recovery in body and soul."
Update from Tali on 10/21
Hi, although it’s Saturday now, I’m sharing some information that we have.
Most of the time I’m staying with my kibbutz--Judih’s kibbutz--at their hotel. At the early morning two weeks ago, Judih and Gadi went for their daily walk.
A team from the kibbutz brought the security cameras from the kibbutz gate and you can see them clearly. When they almost came back, around 7am, Judih called Arie who is the nurse at the kibbutz and reported that she needed help, they were attacked, she was wounded and Gadi was probably killed.
Arie couldn’t come with the ambulance. Hundreds of terrorists were inside the kibbutz shooting people. Since then, we don’t know what happened to Judih and Gadi.
78 members of the kibbutz are missing. For some of them it just takes time to identify the body. Others were taken to Gaza. We hope that they will be back alive and healthy.
Swords of Iron: Fighting Back Online A how-to document on fighting disinformation.
A note of concern before reading the rest of this document: while it is important to never look away from the horrors being committed against Israel, it is critical to remember that social media is intentionally graphic and incendiary. Do not consume yourself with social media; remember to take breaks and also be sure to connect with people you care about offline.
The amount of information against Israel can feel overwhelming. However, it has been proven that much of the most inflammatory content on the Internet is not human-generated and does not necessarily represent public opinion. Right now, disinformation about Israel and Hamas is spreading on social media. These are tactics of the war against Israel’s legitimacy, are methods of dehumanizing the Jewish people, and are part of broader efforts to sow divisions in our society.
As the situation progresses and our emotions run high, it can be tempting to immediately comment on and/or share what we see online. But now, more than ever, it’s important for us to take the time to carefully assess what we’re reading and respond thoughtfully. With that in mind, here are some guidelines:
Here are some messaging strategies to combat disinformation
Israeli Ministry of Health: Medical Volunteers for Israel
In light of the ongoing situation in Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Health is building a list of medical personnel from abroad to volunteer in Israel should the need arise.
In the event of further strains on the health system, as well as in preparation for future natural or man-made disasters, we invite friends of Israel to add their names to our growing community of medical personnel who stand with Israel.
Sign up for the opportunity to receive CME credits in the future, train with Israeli teams, and connect with friends of Israel in your area.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel licensed abroad who wish to volunteer should join using the Ministry of Health’s online form, to ensure pre-clearance of medical licenses.
We thank you in advance for signing up - and for standing with Israel.
American Jewry’s Moment: Supporting Israel in Its Time
by Hank Greenberg
For Jews of my generation, this past Shabbat was the worst deja vu experience of our lives. I remembered where I was 50 years before, almost exactly to the day, on October 6, 1973. I was sitting in Synagogue observing Yom Kippur with my family. I was eleven years old.
I saw the elders in the Shul, whispering to one another, exchanging rumors that Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel. Later that day, before we broke the fast, we turned on the TV and watched the news to see if what we heard in Shul was true. That’s when we grasped that the threat facing Israel was existential; that Egypt had crossed the Suez Canal and Syrian tanks were rolling into the Golan Heights.
Fast forward 50 years. I, like all of you, woke up this Saturday to an equally terrifying reality. Once again, the Jewish state was the victim of a surprise attack on a religious holiday, this time launched by Hamas from Gaza.
But this attack was even more ghastly. Hamas’ objective was not to hit military targets, but to kill as many innocent men, women and children as they could. And they succeeded.
By air, sea and land, Hamas attacked civilian population centers on multiple fronts. Over 5,000 rockets were fired at Israel. Terrorists infiltrated towns and shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians. Firefights broke out in Ashdod, Siderot and elsewhere in the South of Israel.
The butcher’s toll is heartbreaking. On a single day, more than 700 Israelis were killed, the most Jews murdered, at one time, since the Holocaust. Over 2,300 people were wounded. Roughly 150 people are now held hostage in Gaza.
In the largest-casualty event, Hamas gunmen surrounded 4,000 young people who were attending an outdoor festival. The gunmen then fired on the crowd. At least 260 people, mostly teenagers and young adults, were mowed down.
The world has been shocked to the core by video images that show Hamas terrorists roaming the streets of Israeli towns entering houses and shooting inhabitants; kidnapping young families (including babies), the elderly, and others; and displaying unconscious victims like trophies. Videos also show streets littered with bodies; women bleeding profusely; and the desecration of the dead.
We have been here before. The Jewish people have experienced such barbarism countless times over our 4,000-year history. That is why the Passover Haggadah teaches that, “In every generation our enemies will rise up and try to destroy us.”
The Pharaohs, the Inquisition, the pogroms of the Russian Empire, the Holocaust, taught us well. “Never again” is not a mere slogan. It is a mantra borne of millennia of suffering.
This past Friday, Israelis went to work, took vacations, enjoyed their families, lived normal lives. But beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday their world changed. October 7, 2023 is a day that will live in infamy.
Rest assured Israel will win this war. Israel will win because it must win — they are fighting for their lives and land.
The world needs Israel to win, too. The civilized world, if it is to remain civilized, must defend democracies against terrorism. It must not let the rule of law devolve to the law of tooth and claw. And it is not.
Today, the free world stands as one, together in their support for Israel. But Israel needs our help. And help we will.
If one Jew suffers anywhere all Jews suffer everywhere. A central tenet of our faith is Tikkun Olam (“To heal the world”) and Tzedakah (“righteousness”). The Talmud teaches that: “Whoever saves one life, saves us all.” So, we can — so, we will.
Relieving the suffering of others is in our DNA; it is who we are; it is what we do. And we can do that by helping Israel now.
All who keep abreast of developments in Israel perform a Mitzvah (“a righteous deed”). You are bearing witness to the suffering of fellow human beings. Bearing witness is more than just seeing. It is a moral responsibility. And you are fulfilling that responsibility.
But you must do more. We cannot put on an IDF uniform, pick-up a rifle, and go into battle. The way we can help is through money — digging as deeply as we can into your pocket and supporting Israel.
Your donations will help the victims rebuild their lives. They will also go to our Partnership Region of Eshkol, which is on the border and hardest hit. Many of our colleagues, friends, and families have been murdered, taken, or are missing.
For American Jewry, this is our moment of truth. Our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ moment was Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. That generation did everything they could to establish a Jewish State.
Our parents’ moment was the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. They gave, and they gave, and they gave.
Now Israel is at war again. October 7, 2023 is a day that will live in infamy. It is the Jewish people’s Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
What will we do? We will honor the legacy of our mothers and fathers and their mothers’ father, and we will give and give more until it hurts.
Know this: Through your annual gift to Jewish Federation or through a designated gift, your impact will be deep and meaningful to countless people.
Please do your part. I beg you to do your part. Israel needs you. I know you won’t let them down.
This essay is derived from remarks given by the author at the Operation Swords of Iron Community Rally & Emergency Fund, held at Congregation Beth Emeth, in Albany, New York, the evening of October 9, 2023.
A Message from Jerusalem
by Peter Rosenfeld
Last Saturday morning, I was woken up by air raid sirens. In the twenty years of coming to Jerusalem, Israel, this was unheard of. Four times each year, we would come to our son’s apartment in Ramat Shlomo, a suburb of Jerusalem, to spend time with our grandchildren, but this visit was to be unlike any other. The wailing siren was followed by 3 loud booms, proof, that the Iron Dome, a military rocket defense system, was operational.
My son and his children were in synagogue when an army representative came to the door and told everyone to go home, and, if they were staying, to go home, get a gun and come back before locking the door. There was a possibility of terrorists being in their town, as their town is bordered by a “peaceful” Arab town. This was how we learned that a war had broken out 50 miles away in Southern Israel.
Walking back from synagogue, my 17-year-old grandson from New Jersey ran home, his 2-year-old Israeli cousin cradled in his arms. The entire family spent the rest of the day in the house. The tension grew with another two air raid sirens, each followed by a few loud booms. After sundown, I was able to get on the Internet and learn about the attack on Southern and Northern Israel. At the time, we heard of a massacre, but only later did we learn how gruesome that massacre was.
On Sunday morning, we were awakened by more air raid sirens. There was a total of six air raid sirens that day. Each was followed by a few loud booms. Anyone who has not experienced the wail of an air raid siren, followed by a panicked round up of family and a tense wait in a closed room, waiting for the booms to follow, cannot imagine what it feels like.
At one point, I looked outside and saw an iron dome missile hitting an incoming rocked that was aimed at South Jerusalem.
Later that day, we heard about a blood drive taking place, with the aim being donating blood for wounded soldiers. The line snaked around the block. The next day, the blood drive was relocated to a large stadium. Over 900 people showed up and waited patiently for over four hours to be able to be a part of the effort. At one point during the blood drive, a siren went off and all the hundreds of people waiting dashed into the stadium. After the siren, they all went right back outside to their places on line.
On Monday, my son from New Jersey received a phone call from a family friend, whose son had volunteered to be a Lone Soldier for the army and was killed in the initial attack. The funeral was being held in a military cemetery, and they wanted someone to be there since his family could not.
The initiatives that people are coming up with to help the soldiers are truly heartwarming. There was a request by email for sandwiches for the soldiers, with a delivery going straight to the front, so that the sandwiches wouldn’t spoil. My grandchildren went straight to the store, bought the necessary supplies and made an assembly line for sandwiches, while the younger children wrote encouraging notes for the soldiers. When they went by bus to deliver the sandwiches to the collection point, an air raid siren went off. They dashed off the bus, into and neighboring building, and as soon as the allotted time past, went right back on the bus to deliver the sandwiches. My son spent another day purchasing basic supplies and toiletries, and even phone chargers, for soldiers who were called up to duty so suddenly, that they couldn’t pack basics.
My son’s neighbor lived in Sderot, a town right near the border of Gaza. He woke up early for prayers on Saturday morning and dodged behind a tree to avoid armed terrorists who were shooting. He is still traumatized by the sights he saw as he escaped the town with his small child and pregnant wife. Soldiers were lining the streets with rifles drawn, and the streets were strewn with corpses.
Another neighbor’s child lives in Ashkelon. They came to Jerusalem on Wednesday, to escape the constant air raid sirens. They reported that the sky in Ashkelon is gray, due the amount of smoke and fire in the city.
Schools are closed and my Israeli grandchildren do not yet have lessons over Zoom or phone. They have reverted to the daily schedule which they had during Covid, to maintain some type of routine.
We know a few Americans who have moved here in the last few months and want to make Israel their home. They have not yet joined the army. They all room with Israelis. All their roommates have been called up to the reserves and they are suddenly living alone.
It is now Wednesday. The full extend of the atrocities which were committed against Israeli civilians for no reason at all is on social media. The horrors on national television are only the beginning of the horrors that occurred. We are working hard to shelter our younger grandchildren from hearing and dealing with the full extent of the death of 1000 innocent Jews, as the death count continues to rise. The situation continues to deteriorate and the stress is apparent on the face of everyone on the street. Every single one of my grandchildren has a friend with a brother or family member in the army.
I have talked every day to friends in America, sharing my experiences. I summarize by telling them that America has 41 times the population as Israel. Thus, if Hamas killed the same percentage of the American population as they killed in Israel, 41,000 Americans would have been killed in one day. It took 10 years in Vietnam for 50,000 Americans to die. The scale of this tragedy is enormous. People deal with the stress in different ways. My way is to have special time with the grandchildren.
It will take the Israeli people a very long time to get over the traumatic events that occurred on Saturday. While Israelis are accustomed to tragedy and terror, both the scale and the brutality of the events that happened here are simply on a different scale. The Holocaust was 75 years ago and we all still remember it.
Remarks by President Biden on the Terrorist Attacks in Israel
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon.
You know, there are moments in this life — and I mean this literally — when the pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world.
The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend. The bloody hands of the terrorist organization Hamas — a group whose stated purpose for being is to kill Jews.
This was an act of sheer evil.
More than 1,000 civilians slaughtered — not just killed, slaughtered — in Israel. Among them, at least 14 American citizens killed.
Parents butchered using their bodies to try to protect their children.
Stomach-turning reports of being — babies being killed.
Entire families slain.
Young people massacred while attending a musical festival to celebrate peace — to celebrate peace.
Women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies.
Families hid their fear for hours and hours, desperately trying to keep their children quiet to avoid drawing attention.
And thousands of wounded, alive but carrying with them the bullet holes and the shrapnel wounds and the memory of what they endured.
You all know these traumas never go away.
There are still so many families desperately waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones, not knowing if they’re alive or dead or hostages.
Infants in their mothers’ arms, grandparents in wheelchairs, Holocaust survivors abducted and held hostage — hostages whom Hamas has now threatened to execute in violation of every code of human morality.
The brutality of Hamas — this bloodthirstiness — brings to mind the worst — the worst rampages of ISIS.
This is terrorism.
But sadly, for the Jewish people, it’s not new.
This attack has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by a millennia of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people.
So, in this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.
There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse.
Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.
They use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price.
The loss of innocent life is heartbreaking.
Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond — indeed has a duty to respond — to these vicious attacks.
I just got off the phone with — the third call with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I told him if the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive, and overwhelming.
We also discussed how democracies like Israel and the United States are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law.
Terrorists purpo- — purposefully target civilians, kill them. We uphold the laws of war — the law of war. It matters. There’s a difference.
Today, Americans across the country are praying for all those families that have been ripped apart. A lot of us know how it feels. It leaves a black hole in your chest when you lose family, feeling like you’re being sucked in. The anger, the pain, the sense of hopelessness.
This is what they mean by a “human tragedy” — an atrocity on an appalling scale.
But we’re going to s- — continue to stand united, supporting the people of Israel who are suffering unspeakable losses and opposing the hatred and violence of terrorism.
My team has been in near constant communication with our Israeli partners and partners all across the region and the world from the moment this crisis began.
We’re surging additional military assistance, including ammunition and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome.
We’re going to make sure that Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.
My administration has consulted closely with Congress throughout this crisis. And when Congress returns, we’re going to ask them to take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners.
This is not about party or politics. This is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America.
We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas.
I’ve directed my team to share intelligence and deploy additional experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise the Israeli counterparts on hostage recover- — recovery efforts, because as president I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world.
The United States has also enhanced our military force posture in the region to strengthen our deterrence.
The Department of Defense has moved the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean and bolstered our fighter aircraft presence. And we stand ready to move in additional assets as needed.
Let me say again — to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t. Don’t.
Our hearts may be broken, but our resolve is clear.
Yesterday, I also spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and the UK to discuss the latest developments with our European allies and coordinate our united response.
This comes on top of days of steady engagement with partners across the region.
We’re also taking steps at home. In cities across the United States of America, police departments have stepped up security around centers for — of Jewish life.
And the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are working closely with state and local law enforcement and Jewish community partners to identify and disrupt any domestic threat that could emerge in connection with these horrific attacks.
This is a moment for the United States to come together, to grieve with those who are mourning.
Let’s be real clear: There is no place for hate in America — not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against anybody. We reject — we reject — what we reject is terrorism. We condemn the indiscriminate evil, just as we’ve always done.
That’s what America stands for.
You know, just over 50 years ago — I was thinking about it this morning, talking with the Secretary of State, the Vice President in my office and — over 50 years ago, as a young senator, I visited Israel for the first time, as a newly elected senator.
And I had a long, long trip — or meeting with Golda Meir in her office just before the Yom Kippur War. And I guess she could see the consternation on my face as she described what was being faced — they were facing.
We walked outside in that — that sort of hallway outside her office to have some photos. She looked at me and w- — all of a sudden and said, “Would you like to have a photograph?” And so, I got up and followed her out.
We were standing there silent, looking at the press. She could tell, I guess, I was concerned. She leaned over and whispered to me — she said, “Don’t worry, Senator Biden. We have a secret weapon here in Israel” — my word this is what she said — “We have no place else to go.” “We have no place else to go.”
For 75 years, Israel has stood as the ultimate guarantor of security of Jewish people around the world so that the atrocities of the past could never happen again.
And let there be no doubt: The United States has Israel’s back.
We will make sure the Jewish and democratic State of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow, as we always have. It’s as simple as that.
I was six years old during the Yom Kippur War. I remember my father sitting on the edge of his bed watching the news and asking him who was winning the war as if he were watching a football game. Millions of dollars were quickly raised by American Jewry to support Israel in her time of need.…