Israel

We believe Israel is a cornerstone that connects us all.

That is why Temple Beth Sholom includes Israel as one of our five core values.

Our personal identity as Jews is connected with Israel in three domains – with Am Yisrael (the People of Israel); with Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel); and with Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel). We encourage each of you, wherever you are in your Jewish journey, to continue to discover your personal bond with Israel.

Latest Israel Update from Our Israel Committee

Membership Commitment Forms will be coming out soon. You will see on them a voluntary contribution opportunity for ARZA. What is ARZA?
The Association of Reform Zionists of America (“ARZA”) is the Israel arm of the Reform Movement, representing our community to the Zionist National Institutions. ARZA’s mission is two-fold: to center a connection to Israel in the American Reform community, and to strengthen our Movement on the ground in Israel. “ARZA strengthens and enriches the Jewish identity of Reform Jews in the United States by ensuring that a connection with the Land, People, and State of Israel are fundamental parts of that identity.” This year you will see ARZA listed more prominently on our membership forms. Israel is one of the five core values of our TBS Community.  We ask all congregants to consider a $50 per household membership in ARZA when they renew their TBS membership. We urge you to support our Reform movement and our values in Israel. Learn more about ARZA and the Reform Jewish Commitment to Israel.
Learn about Volunteer Experiences in Israel post October 7 with some of our TBS volunteers – Saturday, June 1 after Shabbat Morning Service (approximately 11:30 am).
Location: Welcome Center. Lunch included. Come hear Marc Rivo’s moving stories of volunteering in Israel. RSVP here.
 
Israel Committee Meeting – Tuesday, June 11 at 1:00 pm in person at TBS. If you are looking to get more involved in Israel programming, please join us..We believe Israel is a cornerstone that connects us all. That is why Temple Beth Sholom includes Israel as one of our five core values. Our personal identity as Jews is connected with Israel in three domains – with Am Yisrael (the People of Israel); with Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel); and with Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel). We encourage each of you, wherever you are in your Jewish journey, to continue to discover your personal bond with Israel. RSVP here
“Screams Before Silence”: An online discussion with Sheryl Sandberg, presented by the Union of Reform Judaism – June 6 at 7:00 pm on Zoom.
Months after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, it can feel like the world has lost focus on what really took place that day. Will you bear witness? “Screams Before Silence”, a powerful new documentary led by Sheryl Sandberg, captures first-person testimony from survivors, first responders, eyewitnesses, released hostages, forensic experts, and advocates. Their harrowing accounts reveal the uncompromising truth: that Hamas used rape, assault, and mutilation in a brutal rampage of gender-based violence. The world needs to bear witness, demand justice, raise our voices, and ensure the brutality of October 7 never happens again and we need your help in raising awareness within your own circles to make this happen. Please join us June 6 at 7:00 pm for a conversation with Sheryl Sandberg, who will be joined by Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, Executive Director of WRJ, and Yolanda Savage-Narva, Vice President of Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) for the URJ. This session will cover the making of the film and the importance of talking about what really happened that day.  Content Warning: Screams Before Silence contains depictions of violence and sexual assault that may be disturbing or triggering. Clips from the film may be shown during the conversation, and the discussion will be centered around these topics. Viewer discretion is advised. Register for the conversation. Please watch the film beforehand.

Israel Resources

Educational Series with Mike Hollander

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Watch Videos of programs hosted by temple beth sholom as well as news items

An update from the Israel Committee: take the time to watch Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz’s sermon (46:42 time stamp on the video when you click the image); watch this video on Kveller where musicians turn a classic Israeli song into a rock anthem (worth watching); listen to “You’ve Got a Friend” with David Broza and Osher Beniso, a lone soldier from Long Island; and look at these photos from the Washington, D.C. Rally where Rabbi Loiben and Director of Congregational Engagement Mark Baranek were among those 290,000 present. We would also like to ask you to read this article from the Jerusalem Post.

A Letter from Rabbi Ezra Ende, from our Sister Congregation

Dear Friends,

October 7th— A good many conceptions—even fundamental values—were impacted by the events of the past two weeks. All of us feel challenged on a variety of levels and are wrestling with our reactions

“רק על עצמי לספר ידעתי”

“I can only share my own story,” writes our beloved poet Rachel (Rachel Blubstein). In a similar vein, writing to you is an opportunity for me to share what I’ve gone through as a father, an Israeli, a human being and a Jew.

On that “Black Shabbat,” I was awakened by a siren. It felt surreal and in my imagination, I heard shouts and screams of children (as was actually the case in a different part of the country). I was unwilling to accept the fact that a war had erupted, particularly in light of the fact that our younger son Itamar was on active duty in the same area. And I’ve always been good at denial…

I finally climbed out of bed and entered the living room, glued to the television. All Israelis have fears in time of war about Army officials knocking at the door to deliver the most horrendous news. I wasn’t willing to consider such a personal scenario and the tension colored my interaction with others that day.

It wasn’t clear what was going on. There were rumors about terrorists capturing kibbutzim but reports were nebulous. The powerful security wall between Israel and Gaza was one of the foundations of our national security. How on earth was it possible to penetrate it? But that is what happened and the terrorists swept through virtually all the villages in the “Gaza Envelope” in unbelievably large numbers, executing terrible war crimes. It appears that before Simchat Torah 5784 we were living in a different conceptual world , a world of fantasy.

We were fortunate that day. Itamar was only lightly injured while heroically engaged in battle for eight hours. He is now recuperating at home. We are coping.

The war has raised a number of existential questions here in Israel:

What will be the future of Israel? Is it as safe as we always assumed? How do we remain loyal to our morals while fighting an inhumane enemy, intent upon ensuring that he will not dare contemplate attacking us in the future?

The war has produced an unbelievable outpouring of volunteers and spontaneously formed voluntary organizations working for the common good, encompassing former political adversaries—but I fear that the basic political tensions remain dormant and continue to constitute a danger. Many Israelis feel helpless and are astounded at having been so disappointed by the government and the defense establishment.

The pogroms—yes, pogroms—that we experienced were devastating. We mourn for the lost lives of civilians and soldiers and are gripped by concern for our children who have been called up for duty.

About 220 of our brothers and sisters were forcibly taken to Gaza, included among whom are a large number of foreign workers. This is almost impossible for us to grasp.

“Releasing the captives” is a major commandment, which we dare not ignore as we continue to attack the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Our Rabbis teach us that captivity is worse than hunger or a plague. We must not lose time!!

BRING THEM BACK NOW!!

I wish to add that your heartfelt messages of solidarity and concern mean a lot to me. They truly strengthen us. Thank you. Please continue to present the cause of Israel as strongly as possible to those around you.

As a community we are immersed in pastoral care for bereaved families and support for the huge number of people that were evacuated from their homes in the Northern and Southern borders. 

We Remain One People.

כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה

All of Israel are responsible for one another.

Fondly,

Rabbi Ezra Ende

Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz joined local leaders and community members, as well as fellow first responders, gathered at Miami Beach Fire Rescue Station No. 2 Monday morning, November 6,  for a special sendoff for eight firefighters heading to Israel to volunteer in the war-torn nation.

The sendoff began with a surprise procession from children at a local Jewish school, singing songs, waving the Israeli flag, and sharing cards with the firefighters to thank them for their service.

The firefighters will be deployed for two weeks, traveling first to Tel Aviv, and then given assignments there, Jerusalem or Haifa as needed, through the Emergency Volunteers Project. The nonprofit was formed in Israel, with the goal of providing assistance during times of emergency, such as natural disasters, and large-scale incidents of terrorism or war, according to its website.

Message from our Israel Pillar Committee Chair

As of the writing of this article, Israel, and in many ways the entirety of the Jewish people, is at war. The war has been raging these many weeks since the horrific and brutal attack on Ha’aretz by Hamas. We have read about and have seen the unspeakable atrocities that occurred on October 7th: we are devastated, we are horrified, and we are heartbroken for all of those lives that were lost and for all of those whose lives which are irrevocably and deeply damaged. We have also witnessed a shocking increase of antisemitism in all of its various forms, here at home and across the globe. But know this: we are also resolute as jews and Zionists in standing by Israel, as we have for the past 80 years. Temple Beth Sholom has and will steadfastly be one with the people, the land, and  

The Israel Pillar Committee has been hard at work and has re-focused its efforts, closely aligned with temple leadership, in support of Israel and Israelis, and as well our congregants here at home. (I would be remiss without expressing a deep appreciation for the commitment and efforts of the old and new members of the IPC, as well as our staff liaison Jeff Agron, and the unflagging support of Mark Baranek and our clergy.) Our Israel support is concentrated on the following areas: financial support, materials support, and information.

In summary: our financial support is focused on directing donations to the Miami Jewish Federation Emergency Fund, the Magen David Adom, the IMPJ & IRAC Emergency Campaign, and to Israel Bonds.  (Of special note, as of this writing TBS has committed to an institutional purchase of Israel Bonds in excess of $100,000 via the Glickstein Foundation.) TBS also participated in a very special program with the City of Miami Beach, to send two firefighters of the MBFD to Israel for two weeks to replace those Israeli firefighters who were called back into the IDF. All of these efforts will remain ongoing. While the central focus of TBS support is on monetary donations, the temple is now also getting involved with other congregations’ efforts at collecting much needed supplies for IDF units and displaced/impacted Israeli families. 

To aid in this area, we have set-up a collection bin for needed supplies and are also coordinating a weekly volunteer supplies drop-off at Skylake Synagogue in North Miami Beach, which has been a local leader in the collection, shipment, coordination and distribution of these supplies into Israel. Many of you may have noticed the ACT NOW for ISRAEL table in the Welcome Center, which affords opportunities for our children to fund-raise through sales of items they have made while at school, as well as opportunities for adult congregants to donate to the funding resources mentioned above.

We are also aligning closely with AIPAC to aid in their efforts at supporting Israel here in the US through having a dedicated iPad at the ACT NOW table, enabling individuals to not just donate, but to participate in AIPAC’s congressional and other governmental letter campaigns to our elected representatives. Our efforts in information/education are geared towards both, age-appropriate student learning opportunities and of course adult opportunities. These opportunities are focused on keeping congregants informed on news and news analysis, first-hand accounts of what has happened and what’s happening now, and providing strategies for how to communicate about Israel with younger family members, and questioning friends and colleagues. Finally, know that our efforts are ongoing and new ways and opportunities to support and stand by Israel will continue to emerge, and anyone who is interested in joining the Israel Pillar Committee and engaging in this important work should reach out to me at any time.

Rabbi Ende’s letter (above) is a moving account of what he and his family experienced on October 7th and beyond. Also, it provides meaningful insights into what Israelis and Jews are facing in this new world we are now living in.  – Jonathan Sepsenwol

People

When you think of Israel, ask yourself “how is my connection with the People of Israel (Am Yisrael) a part of my identity? From which Jewish communities in the world did your family come? How is the Shoah, the Holocaust, part of your identity? Did anyone in your family settle in Israel? What are your favorite Jewish holiday memories? Who are your favorite Jewish artists, sports figures, public officials, and writers? If you are Jew-by-choice, who converted, remember that the rabbis say that your soul was with those who received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, so your connection with the People of Israel goes way back!

State

When you think of Israel, ask yourself “how is my connection with the State of Israel (Medinat Yisrael) a part of my identity? What is your earliest memory of the state of Israel – the UN vote to establish a Jewish state; Ben Gurion's announcing Israel’s independence; the Six-Day War; the peace treaty with Egypt? What makes you proud about the state of Israel? What Israeli food, music, movies, and culture do you like most? We are so blessed to live in a time when a Jewish state exists. So many Jews over our three millennium have not lived during the time of a Jewish state. How does that shape your personal story?

Travel

At Temple Beth Sholom, we believe that the best way to foster a relationship with Israel is by experiencing the wonders that Israel has to offer in person.

Sister Congregation - Domim

Kehilat Dror models innovative, egalitarian Judaism in Jerusalem as a member congregation of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). 

Connections (People)

 
The Jewish Agency

The Jewish Agency for Israel brings Jews to Israel, connects Israel to Jews, and helps build a better society in Israel and beyond. The Jewish Agency’s mission is to inspire Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage, and homeland, and to empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel.

Talk Israel 

The first mobile app to bring you digital content from dozens of sources tailored to your personal preferences and interests.

 

Travel (Land)

 
Taglit – Birthright

Taglit-Birthright Israel (Hebrew: תגלית‎‎), also known as Birthright Israel or simply Birthright, is a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors free ten-day trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage ages 18–26. Taglit is the Hebrew word for discovery. Join more than 400,000 Jewish young people from 66 countries who have received the gift of a free trip to Israel!

Masa Israel Experience

Looking for a life-changing experience in Israel? Masa Israel Journey makes it easy for you to connect to transformative, immersive programs in Israel. Masa Israel Journey, a public-service organization founded by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Israel, together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, is the leading organization in the long-term Israel experience space, and it sets the industry standard.   With more than 200 different options, Masa Israel Journey can help you find the ideal way to connect to your Jewish identity and freedom to explore your own personal, academic, and career interests. Masa Israel Journey also offers scholarships, provides expertise, and supports you throughout the entire process of finding the Israel experience that’s right for you. Masa Israel offers a diverse portfolio of two-to-twelve-month study, service, and career development programs for young Jews ages 18-30. Since its founding, over 100,000 young Jews from more than 60 countries have participated in Masa Israel programs.

 

Israeli News & Weather (State)

 
The Times of Israel

The Times of Israel is a Jerusalem-based online newspaper founded in 2012 to document developments in Israel, the Middle East, and around the Jewish world. The Times of Israel has no partisan political affiliation. It seeks to present the news fair-mindedly and offers a wide range of analysis and opinion pieces.

Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post is the leading news source for English-speaking Jews since 1932. This publication covers Israel news, updates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East and the Jewish World.

HaAretz

Ha’aretz means the “land of Israel”.  Founded in 1918, Ha’aretz is Israel‘s oldest daily newspaper.  The paper’s editorial content is considered left of center.

YNet News

YNet News is the online English-language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew news portal, Ynet.  YNet News was established in 2005 in Tel Aviv to provide reporting and news from Israel and the Middle East to the Israeli community and its readers.

Israel Weather
 

 

AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee (State)

 

AIPAC is a bipartisan organization of United States. citizens dedicated to strengthening, protecting ,and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of both countries.  AIPAC’s staff and citizen activists educate decision makers about the bonds that unite the U.S. and Israel and how ensuring that the Jewish state is safe, strong and secure is in America’s best interest.

 

Hebrew Literacy (State)

Are you going to Israel or have Israeli family and friends, and want to speak Hebrew with them?  Learn conversational Hebrew and enrich your mind.  The synagogue offers Hebrew language classes.  Many websites and helpful learning aids can help you translate Hebrew to English, help you learn Hebrew words, and help you practice your conversational skills.

Hebrew Podcast   

Subscribe to Hebrew podcasts and learn Hebrew at your own pace through user-friendly video and audio lessons, flash cards, games, and newspapers.

Hebrew Verbs and Conjugation  

This is a free website offering an easy way to learn the common verbs and how to say them in present, past, and future tense, and in gender, single and plural tense.

Google Translate

A family member or friend from Israel sent you an email or PowerPoint presentation or an article in Hebrew? Just cut-and-paste words and paragraphs from English to Hebrew and Hebrew to English using this free website.

Temple Beth Sholom Israel Volunteer Leadership and Staff 

Israel Committee Co-Chairs

Jonathan Sepsenwol 

 

LIAISONS

AIPAC – TBS Liaison                  Miriam Steinberg 

AIPAC Miami Clubs                 Danny Hertzberg/Mark Meland

Brothers for Life Project                 Daniel Nir

David M. Dubrow Scholarship in Israel    Neil Dubrow 

Taglit (Birthright)                     Stuart Rohatiner 

Magen David Adom                    Andrew and Brenda Nullman

BESHTY Israel VP                    Goldie LieberPerson

SLJ – Israel / Hebrew Curriculum         Carl and Robin Linder

Innovative School Israel / Hebrew         TBD 

Israel Summer Trip & Bnei Mitzvah         TBD 

Israel Committee Staff Liaison:  Mark Baranek  

School for Living Judaism: Barb Shimansky  

BESHTY: Rabbi Joanne Loiben