By Rabbi Dana Saroken

I am a rabbi in Baltimore, Maryland. But that feels irrelevant. Much more importantly, I am a Jew and even more importantly right now, I am a proud, relentless, unabashed and unwavering Zionist. I am not alone. The world is filled with us.

You might not feel our care and you might not feel our support. But I promise you, from the deepest recesses of my aching heart, my exhausted body, my stirred up mind that has gone to places these days that it’s never been, and my soul that is devastated, horrified, and angry beyond what words can describe – we are there with you.

We are far away. Too far away to pack up supplies, to tend to the sick, to sit beside those who are hospitalised, to search for those who are missing, to feed the hungry, to fill in for those who have been called to serve. But we are with you. Day after day after day. And night after sleepless night. We are barely functioning as we spend our days reading your stories, your posts, and telling your stories, forwarding your requests and calls to action and telling the story of what is happening in our Homeland to anyone we encounter.

The Talmud says that the way we know that we are family is that scalding water on your head makes me scream. Our Israeli family…. We are screaming. With every murder, abduction, and attack – we are screaming the primal scream of family!

But you…You are there. Staying in your homes even though sometimes you are too fearful or anxious to close your eyes. You are there. Even though you could choose to fly to safety. You are there. Answering the calls to serve, showing up, and doing your part to protect and defend – even when that means putting your lives on the line. You are there. Offering up your children, your spouses, your grandchildren to ensure that we will all have a People and a Homeland. You are there. To dig graves for, attend the funerals of and cry for those who were murdered. You are there. You are there tending to the sick. You are there giving blood, you are there packing food, and you are there searching for the missing. You are there just quietly sitting beside friends and neighbors who are waiting for news about loved ones. And you are also taking care of your own families and communities as you do the work of caring for others.

My 19 year old son is there with you. Today, he’s packing supplies for soldiers, collecting money and clothing for those in need, he even danced at the wedding of a bride and groom that he did not know because no visitors were able to be there with them. Tomorrow, he’ll continue to do small things for the bigger cause.

But most of us … are in our safe homes feeling helpless. Putting hearts next to your posts because words feel insufficient. We are doing what we can from afar – watching and reading the news, reaching out to those in Israel. We are trying to influence our politicians, organizing and show up for rallies and vigils, sending money and supplies and praying but mostly we’re scrolling in horror. And trying to make sure that we reach out to others who will stand strong with Israel.
For all of these reasons, what I really wanted to say…is THANK YOU!

We don’t take for granted that you are fighting this fight for all of us. That you are taking big risks for all of us. That you are the reason that we will be able to plan our visits and trips, send our teenagers on school trips and gap years and our college kids for internships. We are more aware than ever before – that the miracle of Israel…is being perpetuated by YOU.
So when we return, I hope that we can adequately thank you. But what words would be enough? So for now… I just say “thank you”. From the bottom of my aching heart, mind and soul. Thank you. For all that you are doing. For all of us. Every. Jew. Throughout eternity.

Chazak Chazak v’nitchazek…
May God (and our government and IDF) keep you safe
May God (and our leaders and IDF) bring those who are in danger home safely
May God (and the entire community of doctors, nurses, therapists and healers) bring healing to those who are in need
May God (and may others near and far) be kind and gracious to you.
And may God give you (and may you find within you) reservoirs of strength, resilience, courage, clarity, and faith.
And more than anything..
May God envelop the Jewish Homeland in peace.
*Written by Rabbi Saroken to the people of Israel. Please share it with your loved ones in Israel to show them our love and support

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