Standing With Israel

We are all outraged and devastated by the attack on Israel that began on October 7th. Shabbat and Simchat Torah, a day of rejoicing, was turned into a day of sorrow with hundreds murdered, kidnapped and continued fear. The fact this occurred one day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War is sobering and the fact that many civilians were targeted is horrifying.

The days since the attacks on Israel began have been heartbreaking. As we now know, not since the Holocaust has this many Jews been murdered in one day. As of now, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed and about 150 were kidnapped.  Babies, grandparents, young people at a peace concert, Kibbutzniks, and soldiers have been murdered by a terrorist organization (Hamas) whose goal is to kill Jews and destroy Israel.

We are here to support each other during these difficult times and we encourage you to reach out to each other and to us if there’s anything you need.

Joining Together

We joined together in prayer for Havdalah Saturday Oct 7, had a community vigil on Oct 8, and on Oct 13 we held a special Shabbat Service in Solidarity with Israel where we were joined by members of the community. There was a South Bay Community Solidarity Gathering for Israel on Oct 12 (View Recording), a rally to Bring Home the Kidnapped in Palo Alto on Nov 4, and a Sholshim 30 Days Vigil in Los Gatos on Nov 7.

There will be more opportunities to join together — as more events are planned, we’ll post them here as well.


In response to the military and human emergency in Israel the Israel Reform Movement, its Rabbis, congregations and volunteers are gearing up to help the people directly impacted in the Shaar HaNegev region and throughout Israel’s center and south in coping with the crises. The humanitarian fund, Keren b’Kavod has begun mapping needs with authorities and partner NGO and plans to bring volunteers and supplies directly to settlements and shelters under fire. Congregations throughout Israel are offering members homes and their buildings to provide temporary housing as well as pastoral counseling by our rabbis to those in need. Our group home for adults with disabilities in Modiin, Bayit B’Kehillah has very specific needs for activities and professional services to help the residents deal with the special challenge. In particular our Sha’ar Ha Negev congregation led by Rabbi Yael Vorgan is in need of assistance to help residents who are in trauma in so many respects.
We will be grateful for your donations to help the IMPJ provide the needed assistance immediately.

In response to the war launched against Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas, Jewish Silicon Valley has created the “2023 Israel Emergency” campaign to help provide immediate assistance to victims and their families. Donations may be directed to JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America) in Israel or to local Israelis in Silicon Valley.

Established in 1998, NATAL – the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, is an apolitical organization providing multidisciplinary treatment and support to direct and indirect victims of trauma due to terror and war in Israel. They are looking for donations to aid in this work.

Your donation ensures Magen David Adom’s paramedics, EMTS, first responders, and first-aid providers — volunteers and staff–have the training, equipment, and medical supplies they need to treat injured and ill people in Israel.

United Hatzalah is an Israeli free, volunteer-based emergency medical services organization throughout Israel with its headquarters based in Jerusalem.

The New Israel Fund was established more than 30 years ago to advance democracy and equality in Israel. NIF fights inequality, injustice, and extremism because they understand that justice is the precondition for a successful democracy and the only lasting road to peace. They are currently seeking donations for their Emergency Action Plan to meet needs in this moment of crisis. Funds donated will go to: basic care for most vulnerable groups, combating violent speech online, preventing intercommunal violence in mixed cities, and mental health and trauma counseling.

Israeli News Sources

Resources for Talking with Kids

Mental Health support

Better Help is offering 6 months of free counseling for individuals impacted by the War in Israel

JFS Silicon Valley knows these last few weeks have been scary and challenging with Israel at war. Many of us have personal connections to family, friends and others in Israel and need to support them as well as our families and friends living here.Learn more about support from JFS at counselling sessions are available for individuals looking for one-on-one emotional support. To schedule an individual appointment for counselling, please contact Snezhana our clinical associate at or 669-240-8978.

Other Resources


  • Israel: A simple guide to the most misunderstood country by Noa Tishby
  • Can we talk about Israel by Daniel Sokatch
  • Israel: A History by Anita Shapira




Prayer for Israel
by Rabbi Emily Segal 10/7/23
Eloheinu V’Eilohei Avoteinu V’Imoteinu,
Our God, God of our ancestors,
Gird Israel with strength and perseverance.
Protect our brothers and sisters and siblings
In the land of Israel
Give them the courage and fortitude to stand strong
As terrorists attack
And civilians are targeted.
El Rachum V’Chanun, merciful and gracious God,
We pray for Israel and her people:
May those who defend her know safety and bravery.
May those who lead her be guided by wisdom and insight.
May those who are wounded find healing.
May those who are grieving be embraced with comfort.
May hatred and violence be swept away from the earth.
May peace and wholeness spread across the land and fill each heart.
May we each come to know,
Bimheira V’yameinu, speedily and in our own day,
The end of war
The cessation of violence
The flowering of peace
The blossoming of redemption.
And let us say: Amen.


South Bay Community Solidarity Gathering for Israel
Remarks by Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz

Bruchim habaim-welcome.

We come together in solidarity with and for our sisters and brothers–our siblings- in Israel.

We gather together this evening broken-hearted, outraged, worried, in shock and pain. We gather together as a community in solidarity to offer support to one another. Why do we gather? As we learn in this week’s Torah portion, with the Creation of the world and human beings, “it is not good for a person to be alone.” Your being here tonight shows us the power of being with others. Your presence helps bring comfort for all of us who mourn. Your presence is a balm to those who ache.

From the shock of last Saturday’s surprise terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas by land, air and sea, we are reeling from the devastation. As the numbers continue to rise to more than 1200 dead, approximately 150 kidnapped, thousands injured, we continue to hear gruesome details of murders of babies, elderly, women, men, young people attending a peace concert, gunned down. Kibbutz members brutally murdered. Soldiers called to the front, many returning to be buried. We fear for the hostages, individuals of all ages from babies to a Holocaust survivor, pre-teens and
young adults.

Every Jewish person has either a direct connection to a friend or family member in Israel or is only one or two degrees of separation. Our social media is filled with photos and stories. L’chol ish/isha yesh shem. Each person, each missing person, each murdered person, has a name and a story to be told and remembered.

Our community strength is showing up for one another. While we can not erase this tragedy, we can hold one another close as we move through this devastating time together.

Peace, Please
By Rabbi Karyn Kedar
We gather together,
in faith and with hope
to pray for peace
and for the safety of the people of Israel.
Help us, O Holy One
and protect us in our hour of need. Touch our hearts
lest they harden with despair. Guide our thoughts
lest they are overcome with fear.
Bring healing to the wounded, strength to those in mourning, courage to
those in fear, wisdom to those who lead.
Yedid nefesh, beloved one,
reveal Yourself
and fill the world with Your light.
Spread over us the shelter of Your peace.
Be quick, God of love, for the time has come. Have mercy upon us, Eternal
One of peace.


Highlights from Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz’s Recent Trip to Israel, Jan 28-Feb 3, 2024

Sunday, January 28th

Heart, eyes, ears…open. Ready to listen, learn, provide comfort and bear witness.

CCAR: Solidarity Mission to Israel with three dozen Reform Rabbis.

I was emotional at the El Al gate in Newark, NJ—getting ready to board, speaking with the El Al agents, sharing their stories of deep loss and trauma.

In Ben Gurion airport, much quieter than before the War, Photos in the airport are the faces of the hostages, staring at us; begging us to bring them home now.

Our tour guide Uri Feinberg advised us:

“Everyone of us is on the front line. You don’t know by looking at them what they’ve been through.”

At the hotel in Tel Aviv, 

I spoke with a family on the elevator, displaced from Kiryat Shemona. There  are many families here from Kfar Aza too.

Tonight we had dinner with our Israeli colleagues–on the front line supporting a traumatized country. We will be seeing many of them throughout the week.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Member of Knesset, the first Reform Rabbi to serve there and former executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Gilad, shared his analysis of the current situation and provided a wider view. He compared October 7 to 1948. Israel is facing attacks on many fronts.

The situation is complicated and this week we will hear stories of survivors, family members of hostages, provide comfort, visit the sick, bear witness, and support the economy.

May be an image of ‎2 people and ‎text that says '‎BRING THEM HOME NOW! בעזה שבוי שלנו הלב‎'‎‎ May be an image of 8 people, newsstand and text

Monday, January 29th

A full day of learning, challenging stories and conversations, rockets fired, hope for healing, prayers for the hostages and reconnection.

Our first stop was Kikar Hatufim-Hostage Square–located in the Tel Aviv Art Museum Square.This is a place I’ve seen so many photos and videos of these past few months and the act of being there was profound. The clock counts each second the hostages are held captive. The art tears at your heartstrings—Why isn’t everyone eager to Bring Them Home? Tonight’s news of a possible Hostage release brought moments of hope and later news reports, disappointment.

We went to the Hostage and Missing Family Forum Center where Lee Siegel shared the story of his family members taken captive on October 7. His sister-in-law Aviva was released on Day 47 but today, Day 115, his brother Keith is still a hostage in Gaza. 

From suffering to suffering. Our next stop was at Gisha, an Israeli Non-Profit Human Rights organization focused on Israeli and International Law as it relates to Palestinian rights in Gaza. This was a challenging and important presentation to include in the array of perspectives we are learning about.  

From suffering to healing and hope for healing…

The Sagol center for hyperbaric medicine at the Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv has the largest hyperbaric chamber in the world. Seeing the machines was moving. Learning about their success was amazing. 

Dr. Keren Doenyas-Barak and Dr. Shai Efrati spoke with our group, the first to tour there. They lead this Center for

Trauma healing in Tel Aviv. 

The Hyperbaric chamber triggers healing mechanisms as it increases oxygen level in each of our tissues. This has primarily been used for soldiers and since October 7, there is a serious need for civilians to benefit from this treatment, whom they have begun to treat. 

It heals what is considered non-healing wounds of the brain.

We began a long drive north to Haifa and many of us were settling down for naps when rocket sirens occurred. We were safe but I was no longer ready to nap immediately. 

Later we arrived in Haifa and met with Anna Kislanski, Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. She shared highlights of IMPJ’s work since the War —a huge part of the Civil Society’s volunteer efforts (doing work the government did not do). 

Anna reminded us that in 2012, Rabbi Miri Gold became the first non-Orthodox rabbi to have her salary paid by the Israeli government. (The government has always paid orthodox rabbis’ salaries.) This was a catalyst for the Reform Movement to establish 12 new congregations in the periphery of the country. They wanted to build places closer to the border to work with the rural and kibbutzim population. 

20% of IMPJ congregations are in the rural area and are suffering deeply because of the War, in both the North and the South as their families are displaced.

Reform Rabbis have been leading Havdalah at Hostage Square each week. When we were there in the morning I thought of the videos I had seen of Israeli colleagues there.

A sweet time of reconnection to seal the day as my classmates and I met with two HUC classmates from our year-in-Israel (1988-1989). Lori and Joel made aliyah about 15 years ago. Their daughter’s husband and their son are serving in the Army Reserves, at the Gaza border. Lori shared how she and other family members recite Psalms to pray for their safety. We pray they return from Reserve duty in good health. 

So much to reflect on each day.

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Tuesday, January 30th

A full day in Haifa, a mixed city of Arabs and Jews.

We the people of hope (HaTikvah–The Hope is Israel’s national anthem) explored how seeds of hope are planted in different communities here. As the rainstorms pounded, making gardening conditions tricky, it seems an appropriate metaphor for the challenge of these days. 

At Beit HaGefen we met with our MARAM (Reform colleagues)Rabbi Naama Daphne-Keren and Rabbi Gaby Dagan of Or Hadash in Haifa and Assaf Ron, CEO of Beit HaGefen. Beit HaGefen Arab Jewish Center works to assimilate the values ​​of partnership, equality and belonging in the shared space. 

We also met Navin, who teaches about culture in the learning lab. She is an Arab Druse Israeli with her own identity challenges as an Arab and a woman and the challenges she experiences processing October 7. 

We visited the Art and Education wing which focuses on developing connections and sharing intercultural relations between the different denominations and religions in Israel. This goal remains important and requires much more work since October 7.

During lunch, Rabbi Leora Ezrachi-Vered, a colleague I met earlier this year over zoom, shared with me the wonderful work her synagogue Nigun HaLev is doing on co-existence and activism in the Jezreel Valley (Galilee). It was hopeful to hear about her community. 

The heavy rains meant an inside experience learning about the joint Arab and Israeli Community Garden of Leo Baeck.

The group met the head of the garden as well as the school directors and synagogue rabbi (the congregation is also at the school). I was grateful to see my friends Rabbi Oshrat Morag and Rabbi Ofek Meir. 

Jews and Arabs shared their experiences of learning about one another through the framework of the garden, planting seeds of hope for the future. The garden is an island of sanity. 

Ukranian and Russian Jews have been facing the conflict of War between their countries for two years. 

Rabbi Miriam Klimova of Shirat Ha-Yam congregation in Haifa, is from Ukraine. Her members are feeling people have forgotten about the War in Ukraine. She is providing support for all of her members.

Rabbi Benni Minchin, originally from Crimea, serves

Kehillat Daniel in Jaffa, a satellite location of Beit Daniel synagogue of Tel Aviv. As a Russian speaking rabbi, the congregation has grown to include multiple languages as he is also a strong supporter of Ukraine. 

MIriam and Benni are already seeing the growth of the seeds they planted the past few years. 

Our wonderful tour guide Uri Feinberg reminded us of this quote by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z”l, 

“Optimism and hope are not the same. Optimism is the belief that the world is changing for the better; hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope an active one. It needs no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to hope. The Hebrew Bible is not an optimistic book. It is, however, one of the great literatures of hope.”


May be an image of cloud, twilight and horizon

Wednesday January 31 (posted Thursday, February 2)

“Mah shlomcha?”–How are you? This is a traditional way to greet people in Hebrew with the root of the word “Shalom–peace/wholeness” part of the question. As I have spoken with people here, I have asked what question I should ask. Maybe “How are you, at this moment?” 

A meme I saw a few months ago sums it up well. To say one is “B’seder”–Okay—is not a full answer. But if embedded in the larger context—brOKen—then a fuller, more vulnerable answer is given. Israelis are tough but since October 7, no one is really okay. 

On Wednesday, we bore witness to survivors from Kibbutz Nachal Oz who are now living in Mishmar HaEmek, the Western part of the Jezreel Valley. Mishmar HaEmek welcomed them and immediately provided help for the Nachal Oz residents. Here is one survivor story: 

Naomi Eldar, born in Minneapolis, grew up in Jerusalem. She is married and the mother of three boys. They built a new house last year, not a starter house she said, but the house they would raise their family in and live in for years.

On October 6, she and her family participated in a final rehearsal for a show celebrating the kibbutz’ 50th anniversary the following night of Simchat Torah. She shared how well the rehearsal went and how meaningful it is to be part of the community. 

She and her husband woke up about 6:30 am on October 7 to loud noise which didn’t end. 

They ran into the safe room where their kids sleep.She saw lots of messages on WhatsApp asking for help ; saying they’re here; they’re in my house; heard Arabic, shooting, 

They sat there for 19 hours

They used their kids’ toy block box for body waste.

The terrorists shot into the door and the bullet lodged into the lock so they could not enter. 

She slept a couple hours-not a lot of oxygen in the room

The power came back around 6:45 pm

And then wifi and let families know they were alive. 

She told her mom to stop crying and said I can’t handle your emotions right now.

Naomi doesn’t know if she can ever go back to her home. Spiritual long-lasting trauma is real.

Her family lives in a 25 Sq Meter room right now. 

Bring back the hostages -that is most important.

Danny Rachamim, another survivor, shared his experience in the safe room (ma’amad) with his wife while being desperately worried about his son and grandchildren. His daughter-in-law had gone for an early morning run in Beersheva and could not get back home. She saw dead bodies on the road as she tried to return to the Kibbutz. Imagine knowing your family is trapped by terrorists and there is nothing you can do. 

Mah shlomech? How are you? brOKen.

There were many other poignant parts of the day as well as moments of uplift making cakes for soldiers and red clay flowers in memory of the deceased.

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Thursday February 1 (posted February 6)

I’m back in CA and want to share a few reflections from Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

On Thursday we visited the National Office of the Jewish Agency, Keren HaYesod and the IMPJ to learn how the Jewish Agency and Reform movement are responding to the crisis since October 7. They are able to respond more quickly than the government in dispersing monetary funds to help people immediately. It has also been noted that the Israeli government was absent from immediate support—the civilian army—a brigade of volunteers throughout the country—has continued to provide essential resources from harvesting farms (foreign workers are gone) to providing equipment and food for soldiers as well as volunteering to support displaced families living in hotels (including the Dan Panorama hotels where my group stayed). 

Yair Lootsteen, chair of the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism) and the Reform movement rep for KKL, shared that the first murder he learned of on October 7 was his friend Mayor Ofir Libstein from the Regional Council of Sha’ar HaNegev. They had served on the board of KKL together. Ofir was working to have 10,000 jobs for Gazans…

After a stop for lunch in Machane Yehudah, the wonderful market with overflowing spices, food, and people, we continued our day with the newest national institution: The National Library was set to have its grand opening this past October. Instead, it opened without celebration. 

In the afternoon we visited the National Library. Located in the same area as the Knesset, Supreme Court and Israel Museum, the library is a new national treasure. The museum is focused on documenting everything about October 7 and has a heartbreaking exhibit of chairs with posters of each hostage with a book title, curated for the individual. 

The day concluded with a wonderful dinner with my classmate, Rabbi Susan Silverman, other classmates and local friends. We continued our discussions of how they are each doing. One had just returned from abroad and said as soon as he landed, the heaviness of being in Israel engulfed him immediately. 

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Friday and Saturday February 2-3/Shabbat (posted February 6)

On Friday morning, we had a session with our wonderful tour guide Uri Feinberg to process the week. He is a fantastic educator, deeply caring human being, and an Israeli who is also living through a War. We were fortunate to have him guide us—his first trip since October 7.

Also on Friday morning, I was delighted to meet Congregation Emeth member Sarah Langerman who made Aliyah about 9 years ago and is very close to Rabbi Debbie Israel! Sarah fell in love with Israel as a young girl at temple and attending URJ Camp Newman (our wonderful regional Reform Jewish Summer camp). Sarah lives in Jerusalem and works for MASA Israel Journey.  I told her that our students were learning about Aliyah during religious school a couple of weeks ago ☺ 

In the afternoon, we traveled to the city of Modi’in (where the Macabees of the Hanukkah story are from) to visit Congregation Yozma. As we entered the congregation, I saw a couple of people I met there a year ago and immediately noticed the pain on their faces. They are living in a different Israel. Israel traumatized. Israel at War.  Rabbi David Azoulay shared his personal experience as the first Reform rabbi to officiate at military funerals. David shared the story of the three individuals, Yannai Kaminka, Ido Keslasi, and Yam Glass. We went to the cemetery in Modi’in and saw the graves of so many lives cut short. So much love expressed on their tombstones. 

From sorrow to joy. 

Now it was time to turn toward Shabbat. I was excited to return to Congregation Kol HaNeshama to welcome Shabbat with Rabbi Oded Mazor. Full of singing and some familiar and new friendly faces, it was beautiful to be there, and it was also painful hearing of course about the hostages—praying for them.

After services—a special treat—Shabbat dinner at my friend and first year in Israel roommate, Rabbi Susan Silverman’s home. She and her husband (Yosef Abramowitz who was in the US for work—he is a leader in Solar Energy, founder and CEO of Global Energiya) are an incredible example of hachnasat orchim-welcoming guests. 

The evening included a delicious homecooked meal along with a diverse and thoughtful group of people. She welcomed me and a couple of classmates along with a few people she met at services—a man from China who converted to Judaism and faces antisemitism from other Chinese people, a woman from South Korea studying in Israel, a first year HUC-JIR rabbinical student, an old friend of hers who was a leader of the Soviet Jewry movement, a comedian, her daughter Ashira who is in her final six months of military service and exhausted on the weekends at home, her daughter’s friend and his mother from Dallas, who spends many months a year in Jerusalem.

Shabbat morning I woke up very early not by design and thought I could try to fall back asleep (unlikely), try to write, or seize the time and place being in Jerusalem and take a walk to the Kotel. Most of the trip it was raining off and on and I had a raincoat, rain hat, umbrella and waterproof hiking boots. I checked my weather app and it did not appear to be raining so when I got outside in my sneakers, jacket and Winter hat, I was surprised by the mist but figured it would be okay.

At 7 am the streets of Jerusalem were quiet. I arrived outside Jaffa Gate and the entire plaza was empty. When I entered the Old City it began to drizzle and as I wound my way through the streets, the drizzle turned into rain and I was lost. But eventually I found my way to the Kotel—by this point the rain a steady stream. My feet making squishy sounds. The gray skies matched the atmosphere of the country—how fitting. I remembered being at the Kotel a year ago with Women of the Wall (WOW) and being in a crowd with pushing and verbal attacks. This Shabbat was the opposite. No one else was around. I walked to the Kotel and there was only one other woman on the Women’s side. I placed a prayer in the Wall and then I held my hands above my head holding onto the Wall, praying aloud to God. Help us. Heal us. Eradicate evil. The rain like tears came down even harder. 

From prayer to prayer—I attended Shabbat morning services at Congregation Har El, another Reform congregation in Jerusalem. Rabbi Ada Zavidov welcomed my colleagues inviting us for the honor of the first Aliyah. Everywhere we went, we were thanked for showing up. Our presence brought comfort. At the Kiddush, I spoke with Rabbi Uri Regev, director of Hiddush and former director of Israel Religious Action Center. I also met Joe Federman who runs the AP bureau in Jerusalem and has reporters in Gaza. A sobering conversation.

The afternoon included two closing speakers. IRAC’s director Orly Erez-Likhovski who is an amazing champion of human rights before and during the War. And our final speaker, Rabbi Michael Marmur who taught about Hope and not losing our Moral Center. A powerful bookend to our first presentation by Rabbi Gilad Kariv the previous Sunday (which felt like months ago). 

On my flight from Israel to Boston (where I transferred to a flight to SFO), I sat next to a lawyer for the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. She was accompanying hostage family members to a conference in Denver and then to the UN. The work to bring home the hostages continues and today’s sad news of at least 31 deaths of hostages makes it even more important to bring them home now.

We held a Havdalah service outside the restaurant on Saturday night. Uri noted the Havdalah candle being broken fit the moment we are in. Yet the week which was full of witnessing pain and brokenness included moments of hope and resilience. The closing dinner Saturday evening provided time to connect more, share reflections and a commitment to continue processing this powerful mission.

In her new book, The Amen Effect, Rabbi Sharon Brous teaches a beautiful Mishna (2nd century text) about the power of showing up and seeing others who are going through pain. In an excerpt in the NYTimes she wrote:

“Imagine a society in which we learn to see one another in our pain, to ask one another, “What happened to you?” Imagine that we hear one another’s stories, say amen to one another’s pain, and even pray for one another’s healing. I call this the amen effect: sincere, tender encounters that help us forge new spiritual and neural pathways by reminding us that our lives and our destinies are entwined. Because, ultimately, it is only by finding our way to one another that we will begin to heal.”


May be an image of 1 person, the Western Wall and text May be an image of text