WITH OUR HANDS
So much in our Jewish heritage tells us to take action. Pirke Avot, a collection of sayings by rabbis who lived a couple millennia ago, have two statements we must take to heart in light of any crisis in Israel:
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the work, but neither may you desist from it. (Pirke Avot 2:21)
If not now, when? (Pirke Avot 1:14)
Most immediate to any crisis are the funds to help Israel take care of social needs and rebuild. A couple of years ago, a JTA article stated:
"For all the reasons people don't identify with" central community organizations, when the "chips are down, they know that's the only place to go," he said. "Right now there's nothing more significant that we can do than finding ways to contribute money." Israelis may answer enemy threats with reserve duty, Rieger said. For American Jews, "this is our answer."
But advocacy and personal actions are also needed. The ideas in this section offer ways to help students of all ages and community members step forward in Israel’s time of need.
Study with students before deciding how to take action.
Choose some texts and activities from Focus #6 (“Solidarity With Israel”) in JECC’s IsraelNOW Solidarity Curriculum, available at http://curriculumjecc.wikispaces.com/Israel (scroll down, and click on IsraelNOW).
Choose action steps appropriate to your students.
The items below were adapted for formal and informal educational settings based on the Jewish Federations of North America posting, “Ten Ways You Can Help Israel.”
Donate class or youth group tz’dakah money to your local community’s Israel Emergency Campaign. Funding is used to address humanitarian and social needs. Talk to your educational director or clergy for more information and internal campaign details.
Write to children and families in Israel. Or, write to children and families in your Partnership 2000 community; contact your local Jewish Federation for information how to make the connection. Or, pick up the phone or send an e-mail to family and friends – tell them that you are in solidarity with them, that they are not alone, and that American and world Jewry continue to strengthen our relationships with them as One People. Such contacts lift their spirits, and ours!
Buy Israeli commercial products. Visit http://www.buyisraelgoods.org to see which local stores carry Israeli products. Shop online at http://shopinisrael.com. Consider ordering from Israel and perhaps sending gifts to friends and relatives in Israel.
When it is safe, travel, travel, travel to Israel. By plane, by hang glider, by kayak, anyway, anyhow you can get there, and bring others with you. Encourage teens to participate in youth programs to Israel and especially encourage young adults ages 18-26 who have never traveled to Israel on a group trip to apply for Birthright Israel . Those who have already been, will find the MASA programs to be affordable and engaging.
Read Israeli publications - subscribe or log-on to their websites (English and Hebrew versions are available). Visit www.haaretz.com, www.jpost.com, www.ynetnews.com or www.jta.org. And respond. Monitor and respond to the media, especially smaller outlets (free weeklies, alternative press, local radio shows and cable access channels, etc.).
Read books about Israel and the Middle East. Check what your synagogue or public library might recommend, but here are some starting points:
Stay current on the situation in Israel, using any number of news sources. One possible source is: The Israel Project. This is an international non-profit organization that provides journalists and leaders accurate information about the Middle East. It is not related to any government or government agency.
Write letters in Support of Israel’s Right to Defend Itself. And express appreciation to the US Administration for its steadfast support for Israel. Remember that it is important to maintain a balance between letters urging action, letters expressing disappointment, and “thank yous.”
Some important addresses are:
President of the U.S.
Secretary of State
(contact information is on the left of the page)
Members of Congress (you can locate your members of congress on the websites, below)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at:
The Honorable Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General of the United Nations
New York, NY 10017
As a Jewish educator, this is an everyday action!
In your synagogues, schools, camps and youth group programming, say prayers for the safety of all innocent people affected by the conflict, for Israel’s soldiers and for Israel. Prayers for Israel may be found in prayerbooks, as well as some posted online. For instance, check out http://www.koach.org/documents/prayer-for-israel.pdf from the Conservative Movement’s college program, or this page from the Reform movement: http://urj.org/israel/prayers/. Koren Publishers has posted this prayer for the Israel Defense Forces: http://www.korenpub.com/pdf/IDFprayer.pdf
Take action in a variety of ways.
Every action – big or small – counts. Tie a blue ribbon around a tree or mailbox in front of your home to raise awareness and demonstrate your solidarity with the People and the State of Israel. Participate in rallies. Attend classes. Help your students take action steps.
If you are connected to a specific organization or movement, check out any action steps regarding Israel it is promoting to its members. For example:
Check out resources that explain the process of advocacy, along with information details important to the Israeli conflict:
Find ways to connect others to Israel and to take steps on her behalf. Most important is reaching out to college students on campus.
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland