June 21, 2024
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Livingston’s Rabbi Klibanoff and Etz Chaim Support Israeli Firefighters

Rabbi Samuel Klibanoff takes the responsibility of inspiring his community to give back seriously. “Tzedaka is a basic tenet of who we are as Jews,” he said. “God blessed us with resources, and our job is to share it with the world.”

As Rabbi of Etz Chaim Synagogue in Livingston, he’s in a unique position where he can influence his community to donate to worthy causes both in the community and in Israel. “Our shul is founded by Holocaust survivors whose families only dreamed of getting into Israel,” said Klibanoff.

Fortunately, Klibanoff is surrounded by a community that understands the importance of tzedaka and cares about making Israel a better place. “Our congregation has a lot of influence, and we are able to support a lot of great causes, and close to the heart of the entire congregation is the state of Israel,” he said.

And when it comes to supporting Israel, Klibanoff and his congregation have forged an incredibly strong bond with Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA). “I don’t have to work that hard to get people to donate to JNF-USA,” he said. “It’s a cause that’s so near and dear to all of our hearts.”

Klibanoff was first introduced to JNF-USA in 2016 when he attended a JNF-USA rabbis’ mission to Israel, where he was immediately impressed with everything the organization was doing to support the land and people of Israel.

“Anyone who goes on a JNF-USA mission learns it’s more than just water and trees, that there are so many more things,” he said. “The sites we saw led to a great partnership.”

In the years since, the congregation has teamed up with JNF-USA to support several of JNF-USA’s affiliates, including Special in Uniform, which integrates Israelis with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and civilian life following their service, as well as the Halutza pioneers of Israel’s south.

However, their biggest project was a fire truck the entire congregation donated to aid JNF-USA’s support of Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services in Akko.

“When the forest fires broke out a couple years ago, we wanted to do something as a community,” Klibanoff said. “One of the things we realized was that Israel did not have such sophisticated firefighting equipment, so we took it upon ourselves to raise money to buy a fire truck.”

For the Etz Chaim congregation, the fire truck was a way for everyone to come together and be part of something bigger than themselves. “The fire truck was something that everyone can participate in and be a part of,” Klibanoff said.

It was also a type of project where the congregants could easily see the fruits of their labor. “This was something that was tangible, hands-on, and readily available.”

Klibanoff recently got a firsthand look at the fire truck when he visited the Akko fire department during his trip to Israel, even recording a video for his congregation inside the fire truck.

“He told me about the recent fires that were taking place in Akko during the civil unrest, and that the truck was constantly in use,” he said. “I was able to share that with the congregation and show them the truck so people could see firsthand where their money was going.”

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, Klibanoff points out that it is a time for Jews to come together as a nation, and that showing God we are there for our fellow Jews makes a powerful statement.

“Rosh Hashanah is about standing before God and being held accountable for our actions. One of the greatest things in the eyes of our Maker is when we help fellow Jews, not just in our backyard but all around the world, especially in Israel. When our brothers and sisters are in trouble, we have a hand in helping them.”

To support Israel’s firefighters, visit www.jnf.org/firefighting.

By JD Krebs

 

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