December 1, 2023
December 1, 2023

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Israel at War 2023: My Reflections

There is no doubt that this is the single worst attack on Israel in our short 75-year history. I have lived here for 40 years and have been involved in wars and terror attacks and intifadas and more. I served in the IDF for 14 years and I have a daughter who is currently serving in a combat unit. 

More than 1,000 Israelis have been murdered, slaughtered by the Hamas terrorist organization, including 260 young adults at an outdoor music festival. In addition, the Hamas terrorists have kidnapped and taken hostage more than 150 innocent civilians together with babies and Shoah survivors. Not a single community is unaffected. And when you review the list of the soldiers killed, you see so many officers and commanders from elite units. (There are so many dead that they are advertising for volunteers to help dig graves.)

So many questions: was there an intelligence failure? (maybe). Did the country fail in protecting its citizens? (yes). Who is responsible for this? (not sure, but I do know who has to take responsibility). Why did this happen? (like the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, the reason is because the enemy was stronger than us.) Where is God in the equation? (Too big of a question for me to even try to answer.)

The funerals have already started. Today, a lone soldier was buried in Israel’s national military cemetery on Har Herzl. A lone soldier, but over 1,000 people showed up to support the family that flew in. No one is a lone soldier in Israel. No one. During the funeral, while his sister was giving her eulogy, sirens sounded throughout Jerusalem. Everyone immediately hit the ground and covered their heads. What an awful thing for the family. May Netanel’s memory be for a blessing.

People want to help. What you can do is certainly give tzedakah—my expertise is in reviewing and vetting nonprofits as to which are the best, most efficient, most effective places to receive your precious donation. I have said it in these pages before, but it bears repeating: Maimonides opens up his entire treatise on giving by saying, “We must be especially careful to observe the mitzvah of tzedakah, more so than any other positive mitzvah.”

I highly recommend the IRS-recognized foundation Hands on Tzedakah, where 100% of your donation goes to exactly where you want. ( You are probably receiving requests from many organizations. Please be careful in your giving—so much money will be donated, but alas, so much will be wasted, even when the organization is “doing such good work” or are “personally” vouched for. 

By the time these words are printed, the facts of the war will have been updated. I can’t predict the future, but I can say, with 100% certainty, that the people of Israel are strong. Am Yisrael Chai.

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