The connections between this week’s Torah portion and our own lives scream out at us! As I write these words, we are living through a time of grave uncertainty for the State of Israel and the Jewish people all over the world. The events of the past twelve days have filled all of us with foreboding and dread. Everyone I know has personal connections to the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland and its people. We all know families whose children have been called up to serve as part of the massive 360,000-member army that the Israeli government has summoned to defeat the evil Hamas terrorists! Many of us know families with absent members who have been kidnapped by these evil and barbaric terrorists.
Just as in the Middle East, especially in the Gaza Strip today, the Torah teaches us that the world of Noah and his family was filled with evil and corruption. The story of Noah and the Ark have been taught to us since childhood. G-d saw that Noah rose above his fellows. G-d instructed Noah, the only righteous man in his time, to build a large wooden ark in order to save the creatures that G-d had created. G-d told Noah that a deluge would come to destroy all of life on this earth, except for him, his family, and the animals that he will save aboard this vessel, called the Teivah. He promised Noah that the ark would float on the waters as the flood destroyed all the life He had created. Rain fell for 40 days, and then churned over the earth for another 150 days until the waters began to recede. The ark settled on Mount Ararat. After Noah released doves to find dry land, he opened the ark and the animals left to repopulate the earth. G-d sent a Keshet/Rainbow as a sign that He would never again destroy the earth and His creations.
In my life as a committed Jew, I have sensed the presence of evil twice: the destruction of 3000 human beings when the World Trade Center was destroyed by Saudi Arabian terrorists on September 11, 2001, and during the last 12 days. The stories of the murderous Hamas terrorists’ wanton slaughter of Jews, men, women, seniors, and helpless babies are proof that the terrorists can sink to such levels of hate and the resultant evil behavior.
Our daughter-in-law had to explain to our six-year-old grandson that there are people in this world who hate Jews! Micah had to be assured that his school friends were not included in this despicable group.
Last Shabbat, Ellen and I participated in an Israel Solidarity evening at our summer congregation, the Hemlock Farms Jewish Fellowship. More than 125 Hemlock Farms residents attended, including 30 members of the Protestant Church of Hemlock Farms. Ellen delivered an impassioned statement of 12 action items all of us can perform in order to stand up and be counted as concerned American Jews. The congregants, both Jewish and non-Jewish, were enthusiastic supporters of her message.
Here is her message:
“Be Informed and current about what is happening. Share your knowledge and immediately correct any misinformation that you hear.
Donate money to support Israel. Many groups have identified legitimate organizations: Jewish Federation; Magen David Adom; JNF; The Lone Soldier Center; Israel Bonds, etc.
Pray for the people, the army, the country of Israel.
Reach out to those in Israel and those with family in Israel. Make telephone calls; send texts, emails, and notes. Initiate personal conversations. Let them know that they are not alone. (“What are you hearing from Israel?”)
Speak up in your community: Write letters to the editor and op-eds for local publications. Talk to your non-Jewish neighbors and friends about Israel.
Write or call members of Congress urging their unqualified support of Israel.
Attend rallies, prayer vigils, and educational programs. Be counted among those who care.
Move beyond political divisions or party politics. This is the time to unite with Israel. WE ARE ONE.
Affiliate with the worldwide Jewish community. Become a member of Arza (Reform) or Mercaz/Masorti (Conservative) or other international Jewish organizations.
Join national and international Jewish groups: B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, Naamat, National Council of Jewish Women, World Zionist Organization, etc.
Post positive comments and photos on social media. Share other comments and photos. ‘I stand with Israel.’
Purchase Israeli products and patronize Israeli restaurants.”
I received a video from a journalist friend, a recording of a young American Jewish soldier in the IDF. The video was made over a week ago, just as the full magnitude of the worst attack on Jews since the Nazi atrocities 85 years ago was revealed to the world. This young soldier addressed his comments to “Gabba-im,” those who are in charge of selecting prayer leaders in Synagogues throughout the world. His advice to the Gabba-im was to select “Hazzanim/prayer leaders” who can ‘raise the roof’ with their energetic and passionate singing.
On Sunday evening, I walked home after checking our mail. In the sky was a large and beautiful rainbow, just like the rainbow/Keshet that G-d placed in the sky as a sign to Noah that He will never again destroy the world. Let us look for rainbows to be sure that this torturous time for the Jewish people will soon be over!
And remember to sing loudly with pride and great energy, the words of our traditional prayers! Am Yisrael Hai! The people of Israel will live and thrive, with G-d’s help!