Monday, January 12, 2009

From Rabbi Barry Gelman

I am sitting in the airport in Newark New Jersey getting ready for our flight to Israel. A group of Rabbis are on the same flight and our camaraderie and excitement are building. It is so wonderful to be traveling with a group of colleagues (we have some lay leaders as well) for a common cause. Our group is diverse in terms of where we come from and the types of synagogues we serve in. What we share is a passionate love for Medinat Yisrael and a sense of awe for those who defend her.
We hope to bring a message of unity to our brothers and sisters in Israel so that they know that American Jewry is with her at this difficult time.
Last week our community (Houston) had a rally for Israel as did many other communities. I would like to share with you the remarks I made there as they also speak to the ideal behind this mission.

We Stand With Israel

When it comes to Israel what matters is that we stand united with her. Tonight there is no UOS, no Beth Yeshurun, no Beth Israel, tonight these is only Am Echad, one nation, declaring that WE STAND WITH ISRAEL.

Tonight there is no Orthodox, Conservative or Reform, tonight and for Israel, always, there is only Am Echad, sending forth the messaged to the world that WE STAND WITH ISRAEL.

A preacher in the previous generation was asked: “How do we know if the Jewish people are one united people or a fractured people?” His answer was that if Jews in one part of the world are hurting and Jews in another part of the world do not ache then you know the Jews are a splintered people. If, however, Jews suffering in one place elicits crying and pain by Jews in other places, far and near, then you know that the Jews are united. We stand here tonight to declare that we feel the pain of our brothers an sisters in Israel. We stand here tonight, together, united, to proclaim that WE STAND WITH ISRAEL.”

In the Amidah prayer we ask God to: “accept the prayer of Your nation Israel with mercy.” We talk of the prayer of Israel, not the prayers of Israel, for God hears and heeds the unified prayer of a united Jewish people.

Our brothers and sisters, the brave members of the Israel Defense Force understand this. I visited Israel in the summer of 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. While there I had the privilege to visit with a wounded Israeli soldier who told me that when he goes into battle he does so with the acknowledgment that he fighting not just for Jews in Israel but on behalf of all Jews everywhere. He grasped the notion of Am Echad well and tonight we declare that we do as well as we announce to all who are listening that WE STAND WITH ISRAEL.

I leave next week on a 40 hour rabbinic solidarity mission to communities in Israel under siege and to Israeli soldiers fighting on our behalf. I will share with them the message of solidarity expressed at the rally. I will make sure to tell them that the Jewish people are one, that we are Am Echad and most importantly, WE STAND WITH ISRAEL.

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