Friday afternoon, November 16, 2012
On a typical Friday afternoon in Jerusalem, the sirens sound to herald the commencement of Shabbat – and then the pace of the entire city slows to enjoy the beauty and blessings of Shabbat. Shortly after Shabbat started in Israel today, the sirens blared in Jerusalem as Hamas rockets targeted Jerusalem and violated the serenity of Shabbat. Though those rockets fell short of Jerusalem, the ongoing violence perpetrated by the Hamas terrorists in Gaza have sent hundredsof missiles aimed at the Israeli civilian population. As it is already Shabbat in Israel, Laura and I anxiously wait to speak to our son Hillel, spending the year studying in Jerusalem. My niece, studying in a yeshiva in southern Israel was evacuated yesterday due to the heavy bombardments. My nephew, serving in the IDF, is in a military base located near Gaza – and my brother and the rest of his family are within missile range where they reside in Bet Shemesh.
Many of us have friends and family in Israel and our prayers reach out to them at this hour of escalating danger – perpetrated by the Hamas leadership in their irredentist hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Let our personal and communal prayers be linked this Shabbat to Am Yisrael (the people of Israel) to provide them with our solidarity in these turbulent times. As Americans, we recognize intuitively that no nation can ever permit missiles to rain down upon their people. It is the right of a sovereign state of Israel to defend itself and protect her population against acts of war and belligerency from Gaza.
The missiles from Gaza are aimed indiscrimately at civilians in Israel. The Israeli response is to target terrorists and their weaponry. Tragically, and in contravention of International Law, the Hamas terrorist leadership (lamentedly, elected by the people of Gaza) places their weapons depots and launches rockets from civilian areas. We must be aware of these realities as we will hear from some quarters about asymmetrical losses of life – as Israelis bring their children to safety during missile attacks while in all too many cases the Hamas leadership seeks to create propaganda images of civilians injured or killed in Israeli strikes – precisely because the Gazan population is a human shield for the terrorist infrastructure. May world leadership prevail upon Hamas to cease their violence and terror and may the government of Israel act with tremendous resolve to defend her people and safeguard the values of freedom and democracy.
I encourage all of us to monitor the ongoing situation in Israel and I refer you to the following sources for up-to-the-minute accountings:
www.thejewishweek.com www.jpost.com www.haaretz.com
Above all, I pray that the words of the Psalmist resonate powerfully this Shabbat and every day: Adonai oz l'amo yetain, Adonain yevarech et amo va'shalom.
May God grant to the people of Israel abundant strength, and with strength and courage, peace will prevail. With prayers for shalom and Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Buechler
Rabbi Howard R. Buechler
Dix Hills Jewish Center