Shabbat Service in Unity & Solidarity with Israel

On Friday, October 20, the Temple Emanu-El community held a special Shabbat service in unity and solidarity with Israel. We are grateful for the presence and heartfelt support of our Christian clergy allies. Reverend Dr. Eric Park of Christ Church NYC, Pastor Jared Stahler of Saint Peter’s Church, and Reverend Ryan Muldoon of the Catholic …

Communal Shabbat Service in Solidarity with Israel

On Friday, October 13, the Temple Emanu-El community came together for a special Shabbat service in solidarity with Israel. We were honored to be joined by Ambassador Dennis Ross, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Lt Governor Antonio Delgado. In addition to the hundreds in our sanctuary, we were more than 9,000 viewers from …

Our Prayers for Israel

Avinu She’Ba’Shamayim, O God on High, Rock and Guardian of Israel, bless the State of Israel, which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it within the embrace of your love. Spread over it the canopy of your peace.

Dear Friends:

As we awoke this morning, we learned the devastating news that Israel had suffered a series of highly coordinated attacks by air, land, and sea at the hands of Hamas. In a fashion eerily reminiscent of the Yom Kippur War 50 years and one day ago, Israelis were terrorized as they prepared to celebrate a Holy Day – this time Simchat Torah.

At the latest count, 100 Israelis have been killed and 900 wounded. It appears that Hamas terrorists have captured a number of Israeli soldiers and civilians and taken them captive in Gaza, and Hamas militants that infiltrated through the Gaza border remain at large, creating terror in communities in Israel’s south. More than 2,000 rockets have been fired toward the center of Israel.

Hamas’s leadership now seeks to bring other Palestinian and Arab communities into this fight, demonstrating that, for some, their desire truly is to see Israel erased from the map. For them, coexistence will never be acceptable. That the attack comes just as Israel and the Arab world are endeavoring to strengthen ties with a commitment to aid the Palestinian people too, demonstrates the depths of Hamas’s cynicism. To those who, despite this attack, will nonetheless claim Israel will always have the upper hand, look and see for yourself: No people is safe from terror.

We pray for peace for all innocents caught in the crossfire of this hateful war against the Jewish State – Palestinians and Israelis alike. The Palestinian people are as much victims of their leaders’ cynicism as Israelis. All deserve a life free from conflict.

But in this moment, we stand firmly with the people of Israel – our people. May peace soon be established throughout their land, and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. Amen.

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson
Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair

“I Have No Other Homeland”

Rabbi Sarah H. Reines Temple Emanu-El NYC | Yom Kippur 5784 Two of my earliest loves, Judaism and poetry, are deeply and inextricably linked. The Torah describes itself as a shir – a poem, or song. Much of our liturgy is poetry, and poetry can often be offered as prayer. Why? Because with few words, …

“It’s Hard to Be a Jew”

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson’s Rosh Hashanah sermon in the Times of Israel

Shver tsu zayn a Yid! Last Spring, walking in Jerusalem, I passed a man wearing a t-shirt quoting the old Yiddish maxim:  “It’s hard to be a Jew.”

Even in Israel.

Shver tsu zayn a Yid is how I felt that afternoon.  Only a few hours earlier at the Knesset I had met Simcha Rothman, a principal architect of the Netanyahu government’s proposed judicial reform that jeopardizes a cornerstone of democracy – judicial independence.  The reform is a means to an end.  If enacted, other coalition proposals would be difficult to defeat, including bills discriminating against Arab Israelis, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and women, increasingly segregated in public settings; as well as bills to re-legislate the Law of Return to halachic standards, and to annex portions of the West Bank, effectively killing the Palestinian people’s own national aspirations – aspirations already withered by decades of Israeli occupation and a corrupt Palestinian leadership that traffics in antisemitic canards and pays terrorists to slay Israeli civilians.

For thirty-seven consecutive weeks, Israelis of every political, social and ethnic stripe have assembled to protest against this government; hundreds of thousands wrapping themselves in the blue and white of the state they cherish.  Ein li eretz acheret, “I have no other country,” they sing.  “I will not stay silent….”  Poet Ehud Manor composed that cri de coeur during the first Lebanon War, in which many of these protestors fought.  Others served in ’48 and ’67.  Still others during Yom Kippur fifty years ago.  But most, too young to remember those existential battles against enemies without, fight now to save Israel from the threat within.

Read the full article on Times of Israel.

Temple Emanu-El Philanthropic Fund Donates to Morocco Earthquake Relief

The Philanthropic Fund is donating to support critical rescue and relief efforts after the devastating earthquake in Morocco. Funds have been allocated to IsraAID and NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief; both Israeli organizations have remarkable track records in emergency response and humanitarian assistance worldwide.

Our donation helps to support search and rescue operations, provide medical care to the injured and provide essential supplies such as food, water and shelter to survivors.

Timely and effective intervention can make a significant difference in alleviating human suffering during disasters like this. The Philanthropic Fund is committed to being a force for good in the world and is proud to support the work of these two organizations.

You will hear more about the mission and immediate impact of the Philanthropic Fund on Yom Kippur.

In addition to our financial support, we offer our prayers and heartfelt hopes for the people of Morocco.

Rallying for Democracy in Israel

by Rabbi Sara Sapadin

We received word early Shabbat afternoon: head to Kaplan Street near Azrieli between 7 and 7:30. After fourteen consecutive weeks, Israelis would rally for democracy once again— throughout the streets of Tel Aviv and in several cities beyond.  Even in the face of Friday’s terror attack, which occurred on the promenade in Tel Aviv, the rally would go on.  Organizers would comply with police and security, making some alterations to the evening’s schedule, but the demonstration would continue.  

My family and I had come to Israel for many reasons: first, it had been nearly four and a half years since we had touched down in Israel; it was past time to reconnect with the land we love so dearly.  Second, dear friends of ours were hosting B’nai Mitzvah in Israel; it was our privilege to share in the celebrations. Third, our son would be traveling in Israel with his high school class; we thought if he was going, why not get in on the action?  But as the departure date drew nearer, and as the popular uprising against the government reforms grew stronger, we recognized there was yet another reason to travel these many miles across the ocean: Israelis were fighting for the soul of their nation, and we felt drawn to offer our support, in whatever shape or form we could.

On Saturday evening, Motzei Shabbat, we met up with another family and headed towards downtown Tel Aviv.  As we walked, we began to sense a buzz around us, an energy.  It didn’t take long before we saw one person and then two and then several folks carrying, donning, or waving Israeli flags.  Here was a young man wrapped in a flag.  Here was a wee child excitedly shaking his.  Here was a septuagenarian lifting his flag proudly toward the sky and here was a teenage girl raising hers with a kind of defiant joy.  And interspersed among the Israeli flags were beautiful rainbow Pride flags, claiming their space in the crowd as well.   

When we reached HaBima Square, near the center of Tel Aviv, we saw a group of rallygoers forming.  In addition to flags and signs, makeshift torches, in the shape of Havdalah candles, were being handed out.  The torches served the purpose of lighting the way in the darkness, but they also gave life to the many signs which spoke of Israel being “on fire.”  (We took a couple of torches, but quickly realized they were much more hazardous than they were practical.  Extinguishing ours in a nearby patch of dirt, we noticed many others had done the same!). Our fears of widespread fire aside, these torches captured the acute fears of the moment, fears that the judicial changes will permanently alter the fabric of Israeli society, yielding a country in which individual freedoms- for Palestinians, for women, for members of the LGBTQ+ community, for non-Orthodox Jews, and many more, will not only be threatened but eliminated.  The risk inherent in carrying the torches reminds us that the stakes-to protect Israel’s citizens and democracy- could not possibly be higher. 

We walked with the demonstrators for several blocks, weaving through parts of downtown Tel Aviv that were completely new to me.  Every intersection brought more people into the rally; every street, another tributary of rally-goers.  We marched in the middle of the street, halting most traffic in one of the busiest sections of Tel Aviv.  It was an awe-inspiring sight to behold.  This was democracy in action! This was a people who were truly standing up to be counted. 

The streets were noisy and boisterous, full of cries for “Democratia!” and horns and whistles and drums.  Sounds were coming from all sides and every direction.  Some were singing.  Some were chanting.  Others were playing all manner of musical instruments. Even the youngest children were outfitted with noisemakers and kazoos; several times, we were surprised by toddlers peeking out from under their strollers to blow their horns! 

Standing amidst this crowd was as energizing as it was humbling. It was a privilege to walk alongside Israelis who have been steadfastly rallying for democracy, rain or shine, for the last fourteen weeks. Bearing witness to their indomitable spirit, especially in the face of Friday’s terror attacks, was truly awe-inspiring. That we could participate in this historic moment was so meaningful to us and something we will always remember. And if we brought even a small measure of strength to this noble cause, all the better.  Thinking back on the experience, I only hope to intermingle my prayers with those who were marching: may this collective uprising give way to real change, and an Israel that ensures freedom, justice, and peace for all.

Watch Rabbi Sapadin’s Recent Sermon on Israel