By Jane Fantel - Director of Israel Connections
Tisha B’av, the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It is known as one of the saddest days in Jewish history. Today many observant Jews fast as they mourn the temples’ destruction.
At 8am this morning, a 72 hour truce between Israel and Hamas began but not before Hamas fired 13 rocket attacks within a 20 minute time span to Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malakhi, Rehovot, Sdot Negev, Sha’ar HaNegev, Ashdod, Gedera, Shafir, Beer Tuviya, and Merhavim. It was Hamas’s last attempt at sticking it to Israel before it would have to adhere to a humanitarian truce. So far, it’s been quiet. Let’s hope it stays that way.
The IDF is pulling its brave soldiers out of Gaza as it feels it’s mission, for the most part, is complete. It has destroyed over 30 tunnels (although we don’t know for sure how many remain), knocked out many rocket launching sites, and through the Iron Dome, successfully intercepted over 500 rockets aimed at Israel’s cities.
And we mourn…
We mourn the destruction of homes in Israel and in Gaza.
We mourn the destruction of schools and mosques in Gaza.
We mourn the loss of businesses in Israel and in Gaza.
But most important, we mourn the loss of life in Israel and in Gaza.
For many of the civilians in Gaza, they were caught in the web of a very sick and dangerous spider. Sadly, some were religious extremists who did not value their lives or the lives of their children. I mourn for them anyway. Many however, were people who just wanted a good life for themselves and their families and they were used as pawns, as human shields. Far, far too many lives cut short because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I mourn for everyone of them.
For the Israeli civilians who also were killed as a result of this war, your lives shouldn’t have ended this way. You left spouses, parents, and children behind who will never understand why? I mourn for you.
And for the very, very brave IDF soldiers who died defending their country, the Lone Soldiers from other parts of the world who proudly served in the Israel Defense Forces and died protecting us from this monster, Hamas, you will never know how much we honor your lives and the sacrifices you made on our behalf. May your memories be a blessing as we mourn.
There are no easy answers now as we begin to figure out an acceptable path forward. Some people are optimistic that Israel and the Palestinian Authority can sit down again and hammer out a deal for true, long-lasting peace and two states for two peoples. Others, are less optimistic. I’m not sure which camp I fall into. I do know that I still have hope, and that’s a start.
The people of Gaza and the people of Israel are going to need a lot of emotional and financial support in the coming days, weeks, months and even years as a result of this war. I hope they will get everything they need. I pray that the people of Gaza will demand and hold their leaders accountable when this support is received, and that it is directed to rebuilding lives, homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and businesses.
There are many, many organizations throughout Europe and North America that are undertaking emergency campaigns for Israel. One such emergency campaign is from the Jewish Federations of North America (the umbrella organization for all Jewish Federations in North America). Please consider contacting your local Jewish Federation and ask how you can help by volunteering your time and with your financial support. My city, San Diego, California has launched the “Reach Out for Israel” Emergency Campaign. A good deal of the monies raised will go directly to our partnership in the south of Israel, Sha’ar HaNegev. If you are reading this and you are from San Diego, please don’t wait until someone contacts you, contact Federation today. It’s easy to make a donation by going to the Federation website: http://www.jewishinsandiego.org. Erna and Andrew Viterbi have graciously agreed to a one million dollar match up to $50,000 per gift, with all of it going to humanitarian aid and no administrative expenses tagged on. I urge you to please consider being part of this humanitarian effort.
As each of us consider what Tisha B’Av means to our lives, for me, mourning the destruction is only part of it.
Rebuilding is one of the paths forward to peace.