Thank You to Our Volunteers at the Supply Drive for Israel

Thank you to all of our volunteers who contributed their time and energy to a worthwhile mitzvah for the Supply Drive for Israel. We received hundreds of packages and had 100+ volunteers from the Temple Emanu-El community join us to pack an impressive 842 items to be sent to Israel’s front lines. For our third …

United in Spirit: Temple Emanu-El’s Mission to Israel

by Rabb Sara Sapadin

January 13-18, 2024, marked a significant journey for Rabbi Joshua Davidson, Rabbi Sara Sapadin and 17 devoted members of Temple Emanu-El, including Temple President Harris Diamond and Board Member Margaret Streicker. On behalf of the entire temple community, they embarked on a Solidarity Mission to Israel, a heartfelt endeavor to stand with the Israeli people, confront the harrowing realities of the October 7th atrocities and affirm our community’s unwavering support for Israel in both good times and bad.

Covering extensive ground in just four days, our group engaged deeply with the land and people of Israel. We were honored to hear from a survivor of the October 7th attacks, learning about the enduring impact on his family. The poignant words of Lee Siegel, brother of hostage Keith Seigel, resonated with us, urging us to share their story and to continue advocating for all the hostages still in Gaza.

Our itinerary included meeting volunteers and NGOs who responded valiantly to the crisis, visiting communities hosting displaced families and exploring Israel’s state-of-the-art Magen David Adam blood center. We engaged in hands-on support, from donating blood to assembling care packages, and participated in dialogues with journalists, politicians and advocates, each offering unique insights into Israel’s current challenges and future.

The unique value of our Congregation Emanuel trip to Israel is that it engaged us in direct, substantive and constructive dialogue with many Israelis on the front lines of Israel’s  battle against terrorism and movement to protect democracy.” – Jim Gabbe

The mission profoundly deepened our connection to Israel and its people. Witnessing their resilience and indomitable spirit in the face of adversity filled us with respect and admiration. Our congregants reflected deeply on this experience. Danielle Greenberg emphasized the importance of “showing up” for Israel and the global Jewish community.

Rabbi Rinat Safania of V’ahavta, the Reform Community in Shoham, poignantly captured the essence of our visit: “After October 7th, we felt alone. But your visit made us feel less alone.”

Several members shared powerful thoughts encapsulating the essence of our journey. Jennifer Geiling expressed her pride in being a Reform Jew, lauding our commitment to equality, social justice and inclusivity. Jim Gabbe highlighted the mission’s unique value in facilitating direct dialogue with Israelis at the forefront of combating terrorism and defending democracy. Dr. Phyllis Mervis reflected on Golda Meir’s words about Israel’s “secret weapon” – its fierce determination and optimism, which we witnessed firsthand. She also acknowledged the gratitude expressed by many Israelis for our visit and thanked Temple Emanu-El for making this trip possible.

“I left Israel proud to be a Reform Jew. We are leaders in standing up for equality, social justice and inclusivity.” – Jennifer Geiling

Here at Temple Emanu-El, we reaffirm our commitment to stand with Israel, advocate for her and uphold her right to defend her people. As such, we want to express our gratitude to all mission participants: Harris Diamond, Judith West Edelman, Ellen Rothschild French, James Gabbe, Jennifer and Charlotte Geiling, Karel and Danielle Greenberg, Stephen Harris, Phyllis Mervis, Mollie Levison, John and Bonnie Rotenberg, Rebecca Rozen, James Solomon, Margaret Streicker and Samantha Triolo.

Am Yisrael Chai – The people of Israel live!

Rabbi Davidson’s Reflections on the Recent Congregational Mission to Israel

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair at Temple Emanu-El, offers his reflections on the January 2024 Temple Emanu-El Mission to Israel in response to the October 7 attacks.

Progressivism’s Breakdown Over Israel and Jews

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair at Temple Emanu-El, discusses how contemporary Progressivism has suffered a breakdown over Israel and Jews because of its binary sorting of peoples and nations into oppressor and oppressed.

“When Even the Victor Walks Away Limping”

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson is featured in NYDailyNews  Israel faces an intractable set of challenges, each made more complicated by the next: rescue the remaining hostages held by different armed cells in Gaza; eliminate Hamas’ capacity to launch additional attacks without endangering more of those hostages after three were mistakes for terrorists and killed by …

Celebrating a Year of Success with Hebrew Programs for Young Families

A Year of Connecting Cultures: “Boker Tov, Baby!” and “Shiru Iti! Sing with Me!” Temple Emanu-El proudly marks the first year of our innovative Hebrew-language programming for Young Families, “Boker Tov, Baby!” and “Shiru Iti! Sing with Me!” Launched last year to meet demand from Israeli members and parents eager for early Hebrew education, these …

Update: Yarden Roman-Gat is Free

November 30, 2023 We are overjoyed to share the heartwarming news that Yarden Roman-Gat, who was taken hostage in Gaza, has been safely released and reunited with her loved ones. Her brother, Gili Roman, spoke at our services on November 3rd, touching our hearts with the story of his sister’s bravery and her abduction by …

Together in Strength and Hope: Reflections on the March for Israel Rally

November 15, 2023 Yesterday marked a historic day for our community and the entire Jewish people. Nearly 300,000 of us gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the March for Israel rally, surpassing the record set by the March for Soviet Jewry in 1987. Temple Emanu-El is proud to have played our part …

Together We Will Prevail

Rabbi Davidson’s Shabbat Message – November 10, 2023

Gili Roman, Brother of Hostage Yarden Roman-Gat, Addresses Congregation

On Friday, November 3, we were honored to be joined by Gili Roman and Yotam Polizer. They addressed the congregation to raise awareness about the more than 230 Israelis being held hostage and the critical efforts to support the survivors of the October 7 terror attack. Gili Roman is the brother of Yarden Roman-Gat who …

“Come support the Jewish people by praying with the Jewish people”

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson is featured in The Times of Israel on October 24, 2023 It may have been a bit chutzpadik, but last Shabbat I welcomed worshippers, who include many non-synagogue members watching online, with these words:  “Shabbat Shalom and good evening. Thank you to those with us here in our sanctuary, and to …