We have endured 21 of the most heart-wrenching days in Israel’s history. Three weeks in, and Israel remains in mourning - still burying the murdered, still treating the maimed, the injured, and the traumatized. The death toll climbs daily as does the number of known hostages, raised to 229 just today. And more than 170 Israelis remain missing, their fate unknown. As we enter another Shabbat in a state of turmoil, we also enter Shabbat seeking respite to restore our strength. We must remain strong for Israel.
We are deeply grateful to all who have contributed to our Federation’s Israel Emergency Campaign. In just three weeks, some 700 of our generous community members have given over $800,000. 100% of these funds are addressing immediate and urgent emergency needs like evacuation, medical services, and trauma support. Please know that your philanthropy here in Orange County is part of a collective effort of over 140 Federations through Jewish Federations of North America that has, as of today, raised over $550,000,000 for Israel, of which $121,000,000 has already been allocated to 60 organizations on the ground.
These milestones are remarkable for our community and for our Federation system. Yet, as the early days of the Israel-Hamas war make abundantly clear, Israel’s need for our philanthropic support will not end soon. Our support will be needed in the months, even years, ahead.
During these unsettling times, gathering as a community strengthens and sustains us. In that spirit, we extend gratitude to the members of our community who attended the 14th Annual Late Night with Solomon Society last evening. Thank you for standing up and making your voice heard. It was a remarkable evening of generosity and camaraderie with over 250 of us expressing our solidarity with Israel.
I also want to acknowledge that, like many of you, the past three weeks have seen antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment expressed from unexpected mainstream voices in civic discourse, and on school grounds around the country. We must combat anti-Jewish rhetoric and keep it from becoming an acceptable new normal. Statements that overlook the Hamas Charter, which calls for the elimination of all Jews everywhere, ask us to suspend any common understandings of moral behavior. We must recognize that characterization of Hamas as anything other than a murderous, terrorist organization is a rallying call for violent action against Jews. We must all be concerned when such claims are made and must denounce words of violence that seek to destroy human life.
Our Annual Campaign is the source from which we carry out the critically important work to amplify Jewish life in our community, to combat antisemitism, and to bolster our global Jewish community especially in times of crisis. Please consider a gift today to the 2023 Annual Campaign and to the Israel Emergency Campaign. Your generosity to the Israel Emergency Campaign will bring aid to Israelis in their greatest time of need. Your support of our Annual Campaign will ensure Federation impact day in and day out, all year long, at home and around the world. By strengthening our work today, you ensure we are ready to respond to crisis tomorrow.
Shabbat Shalom. Am Yisrael Chai.