Rabbi's Messages

Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin's Message

Rabbi Andrea Merow's Message

July 25, 2014

Horrified. That is the word of the last few weeks. We are horrified by so many occurrences: war in our beloved Israel, war in the Ukraine, downed planes in the Ukraine and in Mali, the role of ISIS in Iraq; the ongoing Civil War in Syria; one-sided UN resolutions condemning the State of Israel; virulent outbreaks of anti-Semitism around the world; and so much more disconcerting news. The events are unfolding so quickly that it creates a sense of chaos in our world and leaves many of us feeling dislocated and afraid. 

For many, there is sadness attached to our horror as we find ourselves losing optimism about a future in which peace and security are even possible. It was devastating to see the intricate labyrinth of tunnels from Gaza to Israel because it reminded us how desperately our enemies want to destroy us. So much so that they would rather spend funds on fighting us than on caring for their own people. We are indeed so devastated for the families of the IDF soldiers who will never return home to their families

This is truly the time to come together as a community to embrace one another, to pray together, to share our fears, and to share our hopes that one day the world will be a bit calmer, and to show our support for Israel in substantive ways.

It is time to continue to come together to support a strong and secure State of Israel.

Yesterday many of us attended a rally in support of Israel at LOVE Park. We were proud that Beth Sholom members Josh Shapiro and Risa Ferman both gave inspiring speeches. We were proud that so many of our members were there. (See pictures) We know that we will all continue to support Israel in this difficult time.

Click here to visit the AIPAC site and lend your support to American legislation aimed at supporting Israel.

Click here to donate to The Federation of Greater Philadelphia Israel Emergency Fund.

In Jewish tradition we are taught that each person represents an entire world. When that plane was shot down 298 worlds were destroyed in an instant. When each soldier is killed a world is gone. When an innocent child dies anywhere a world is destroyed. As The Psalmist says: "Out of the depths of despair we call to you God." We also call to our fellow human beings to reach out to each other in love and not hate, with compassion and not vengeance. And that is so difficult.

In our Conservative movement's prayer book there is an alternative line that was added to the musaf service in the 1980s. "V'lo yishama od hamas b'artzeinu." No more shall violence be heard in our land." The word for violence is "hamas." This is our prayer this week: May no more violence be heard in our Land of Israel-and in any land.

Shabbat Shalom

We were very moved by the remarks of Elad Strohmayer, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Rally in Solidarity with Israel July 23, 2014 at LOVE park. The rally was organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in conjunction with dozens of area synagogues and Jewish organizations. Please click here to read his remarks.

"I am honored to be here today to have a few moments to share with you as we join in solidarity with our sister Israel. The strength of our community is that we are a like family. We support each other and stand up for each other, in good times and bad. 

Earlier today, I had the privilege of talking with a member of my DA’s Office family, Sgt. Becca Richman. We talked on FaceTime because Becca is serving in the IDF, in the Civil Administration in the West Bank, and is a daughter of the Montco DA’s Office, her father is my ADA Bradford Richman. Becca is a graduate of Barrack Academy, a former USYer, and Ramah camper.

Becca sent me a letter to share with you so I am going to read to you her message from the field:

When I was a student in day school, my teachers and counselors would sit me down regularly and tell me to write a letter to an Israeli soldier. Though I always wrote, I never truly understood the significance of this act of support. 

Then I made Aliyah and drafted to the IDF. Now, I'm on the receiving end of those letters. Even before this current crisis, these letters were deeply meaningful because we understood that the act of writing was helping build the next generation of support for Israel. It was developing in those young writers an understanding of what the world would be if Israel did not exist. That small act of sending a letter to a soldier sends a powerful message of support.

I want to thank you for taking the time from your day to come out to support Israel and all of us. As we pass the time here, we are bombarded, not just with missiles, but also with negative commentary from around the globe. People are questioning Israel’s right to defend herself. We know we are doing what is right and just. It would be easier to give in to Israel’s critics, but it would be wrong and it would lead to the destruction of Israel. Israel cannot wait for Hamas to advance their weapons before we fight back. Israel cannot wait until the casualty count is even out before we take action.

Your attendance today speaks volumes about the Zionist community in Philadelphia. This is not just a rally. You’re sending a clear message to Israel and to the world that you will not sit idly by and ignore the thousands of rockets that terrorize Israeli civilians. You are sending the message that you haven’t fallen for biased, anti-Israel propaganda so prevalent in the media. Israel will continue to defend the Jewish homeland. We will continue to oppose extremists while acknowledging that not every Palestinian is an extremist. 

We need your support because it's actually my friends who are fighting this battle. It's people I care about as if they were family. But the soldiers killed in this current operation did not die so that Israel would tolerate hundreds of rockets a week being shot at innocent civilians. I'm part of an army that will do anything to protect my friends who are being torn from childhood and thrown into war. I'm so proud of every one of them. I'm proud of those fighting and those in combat support, and I'm proud of Israel. I've never been so grateful to be a part of something I truly believe in, to be a soldier in the IDF.

Thank you all for your unwavering support."


During a time when Israel is under daily assault rocket assault from Hamas and over 1 million Israelis have been forced into bomb shelters, many of us wonder what we can do? While there are a myriad of worthy organizations supporting Israel to donate to, it is especially crucial to make the case for Israel—among our friends, our families and our elected representatives. This article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post today by David Harris move both of us greatly. We hope that many of you can use its contents to talk to your friends, to speak to our elected officials, and to make the case for our brothers and sisters in Israel.


In the meantime, let us pray for peace in Israel and throughout the world.


Aveinu Shebashamayim, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel; Bless the State of Israel,with its promise of redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy. And let us say: Amen

אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם, צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ,
בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ.
הָגֵן עָלֶיהָ בְּאֶבְרַת חַסְדֶּךָ, וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֶיהָ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ,
וּשְׁלַח אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְרָאשֶׁיהָ, שָׂרֶיהָ וְיוֹעֲצֶיהָ, וְתַקְּנֵם בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ.
חַזֵּק אֶת יְדֵי מְגִנֵּי אֶרֶץ קָדְשֵׁנוּ, וְהַנְחִילֵם אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְשׁוּעָה וַעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחוֹן תְּעַטְּרֵם,
וְנָתַתָּ שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ, וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם לְיוֹשְׁבֶיהָ.


Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin                            Rabbi Andrea Merow


For up to date Israeli news please see:



To Israel's Critics

By David Harris

July 9, 2014

Want to be taken seriously by Israel and its friends?

Here's your moment to demonstrate your bona fides.

If you really mean what you say about criticizing Israeli policies but not questioning Israel's inherent right to live in peace and security, then raise your voice right now.

Not tomorrow, not the day after, but today.

Speak up and say that the scores, if not hundreds, of rockets being fired from Gaza at Israel are an abomination. Say there can be no justification for such acts of terror.

Say that that this assault is a brazen violation of fundamental human rights.

Say that Israeli women, men, and children have the right to live in peace in their homes, and not be on permanent, 24/7 alert.

Say you empathize with Israelis, as they have no more than 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter, and to make sure that their young children and elderly relatives also find protection.

Say that Hamas is a terrorist organization, precisely what the United States and European Union declared it to be years ago.

Say you've read the Hamas Charter and understand the group's goal is not to end Israel's settlement policy, but Israel, period. Say you're aware that Hamas uses civilians in Gaza, including children, as human shields.

Say you know that Hamas is linked to Iran, from which it gets funding, weapons, and training.

Say you see a clear moral distinction between the arsonist, Hamas, and the firefighter, Israel.

Say there's a fundamental difference between a despotic regime, Hamas-ruled Gaza, and a democracy, Israel.

Say you know that Hamas trains children to glorify death and "martyrdom," while Israel educates children to affirm life and advance the frontiers of human knowledge.

Say you know that Hamas opposes any Palestinian effort to reach peace with Israel, and will do everything possible to sabotage efforts in that direction.

Say you know that no country, neither America nor the European nations nor anyone else, would tolerate volleys of deadly rockets fired at them with the aim of causing murder and mayhem.

Say you know that Israeli hospitals, in response to more than 12,000 rockets over the past 14 years alone, continue to provide life-saving medical care for residents of the Gaza Strip.

Say you know that Israel not only has a right, but an obligation, to defend itself, which means going after the terrorist infrastructure and its leadership.

Say you hope that the world will understand and support Israel at this precise time, when half the Israeli population lives within range of Hamas weaponry.

Say you know how to prioritize your concerns, and, whatever your other issues with Israel might be, its ability to end the deadly attacks now tops the list.

Say you'll avoid the temptation to invoke mealy-mouthed and misplaced comments about "restraint" and "moral equivalence" and "cycles of violence," as if you were playing both sides off against the middle.

Say you know that Israel left Gaza, lock, stock, and barrel, in 2005, giving this strip of land the first chance in its history to govern itself. Say you know that no one before Israel, not Egypt, not the British, not the Ottomans, no one, offered Gaza the opportunity that Israel did to chart its own destiny.

Say you know that, in 2005, Gaza had the chance to choose whether it would seek to emulate Singapore or Somalia, and chose the latter.

Say you know that Hamas took over power in Gaza by ousting the Palestinian Authority, killing many in the process.

Say you know that there is no way peace can be advanced for the Palestinians – or the Israelis – if this very same Hamas is allowed to share governance with the Palestinian Authority.

There are moments in life that define us. We don't always get to pick and choose them. They come, often unexpectedly, linger for a time, and then move on.

This is one such moment.

Speak up now – unambiguously, credibly – while literally millions of Israelis live from one alarm to another. Don't worry. There will be other occasions to voice your ongoing concerns about, and criticisms of, Israel.

But if you choose to remain silent or resort to ambiguity, please don't expect to be taken seriously the next time you preface your critique of Israel with those familiar words, "As a friend of Israel..."