A Painful Week for Israel and the Jewish People

Posted on October 13, 2023 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

As the sun sets and Shabbat arrives, we will conclude the most painful and terrifying week that Israel and the Jewish people have experienced since the founding of the state. Thank God, the immediate threat to Israeli lives has been largely neutralized, and we pray that it stays that way. But there is great uncertainty ahead, and that is very unsettling. I pray that the peace of Shabbat will help us to find some measure of solace and healing.

Last night, we gathered at TBE with our local Jewish community to strengthen one another, share our grief, mourn the dead, and express our solidarity and unity with Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world. Below are my opening remarks from the gathering. They represent one element of response to the horrific events of this past week: my sense of what we are to make of what has happened from an analytical perspective.

But there is another dimension of response that is necessary at a time of such shock and grief, and that is the need to express our feelings and emotions. Toward that end, we will convene a community conversation next Shabbat, October 20, during our Shabbat service at TBE. We were to have guest speakers from Israel, but they have had to cancel their trip due to the current crisis. Instead, we will gather as a TBE family to welcome Shabbat, continue to offer prayers for Israel, and to talk. No speeches, no rhetoric — just conversation to help us find comfort and support in sharing the burden of our pain and to strengthen one another.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Arnie Gluck


Community Israel Solidarity Rally
Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck

Last Shabbat, on Simchat Torah, our dancing was turned to mourning as we learned of the brazen and brutal murder of innocent Israeli citizens at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

As reports came in over the subsequent hours and days it became clear what this attack was, and what it was not.

It was not the latest round in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It was not about disputed territory or sovereignty.

It was a ruthless and barbaric violation of the norms of civilization whose goal was to murder Jews. As thousands of missiles rained down on Israeli towns and cities, Hamas terrorists mercilessly slaughtered, dismembered, and desecrated the bodies of innocent women, children, and men, and took scores of hostages, including babies and children, parents, and grandparents.

Not since the Holocaust has the Jewish people been subjected to such atrocities, and such massive destruction of innocent life.

For those of us who are American Ashkenazi Jews it is a reminder of the pogroms in Eastern Europe that precipitated the flight and immigration of our grandparents and great grandparents to this country.

But this time there will be no exodus of Jews. Our people have returned to our ancestral home never again to be uprooted. The founding of the State of Israel was meant to bring an end to Jewish defenselessness and victimhood – and so it must be.

The State of Israel must now do what any and every sovereign nation must do in such circumstances. It must restore the security of its citizens by eliminating the threat to their lives posed by Hamas.

It will be difficult, painful, and costly to accomplish this, but sadly and tragically, it must be done. The days ahead will try the souls of Israel’s leaders and of Jews the world over, and our friends and neighbors must know and understand the anguish that we are and will be enduring as these events continue to unfold – for the losses we will yet incur, and for those we will unavoidably inflict.

We are grateful beyond words for the unwavering support of the American government and pray that it will continue. I speak for the entire Jewish community in thanking our civic leaders and our non-Jewish neighbors who have joined to express your solidarity and your support. Your presence here is medicine for our souls, and we ask you to continue to stand with us and with Israel.

Already, there are those who are blaming the victims, saying Israel had it coming or provoked this attack. What a vile response to the slaughter of innocents.

We need you to stand with us in declaring that nothing justifies such heinous acts. We need you to reject such vulgar moral equivalencies. We need you to help us find the ground under our feet.

Thank you all for being here tonight.