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Am Shalom Israel Tzedakah Fund & Other Ways to Support Israel Now

Letter from Rabbi Steve from Monday, October 9

I write with a very heavy heart as we all struggle to comprehend the enormity of what is happening in Israel. Each day, each hour brings new news and more tragic stories. We know that many of you are wondering how to help; the outpouring of messages of love and support from our community shines a little bit of light through this very dark time, especially from our fellow non-Jewish clergy and friends. Their support and love is an inspiration to all.  

I’ve been in constant touch with our close friend and Tour Educator, Mike Hollander, who is working alongside his family to provide immediate, direct help to reserve soldiers, families of soldiers and civilians. I’m sharing below a very personal note from Mike, along with a few other ways to help. Each organization needs our support and there are so many doing such important work.  

Make a Contribution
There are many organizations providing emergency support on the ground in Israel. Please consider: 
Magen David Adom 
JUF’s Israel Emergency Fund 
World Union for Progressive Judaism's Israel Emergency Appeal
Am Shalom’s Israel Tzedakah Fund (please read more about this below)
Click here for the complete list of organizations vetted by Am Shalom's clergy, staff and board.

Action Item from the ADL

Since the horrific terrorist attack in Israel on October 7, Jewish university students and institutions across America have been harassed and intimidated, and even physically assaulted in a few cases.  Radical student organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine began celebrating the actions of Hamas literally the day after October 7 and have continued with protests glorifying the actions of this U.S. and internationally designated terrorist organization.  ADL has an action alert for folks who are affiliated with 25 key universities to send a message to campus presidents/chancellors asking that these anti-Zionist organizations be investigated for possible student code of conduct violations.  Below is the link to ADL’s action page.  These are universities across the United States ADL is focusing on with about half of the list making up Midwest colleges.  If interested, please take 2 minutes to complete their form and add your name to this petition.

Join us on Fridays at 6:30pm for prayer and healing at our Shabbat service. Whether you tune in via livestream or come to the Sanctuary, Israel needs our prayers now more than ever.

Every Monday and Thursday at 5:45pm, we will say a special prayer for Israel during "Almost Daily" Minyan. ZOOM in here, or join us via livestream.

• How to Talk to Kids About What's Happening in Israel Right Now
How to Talk to Children About the Conflict in Israel
• Know the Facts and the Issues
• Israel Learning Series: Join us for three Wednesday conversations November 1 with Mike Hollander, November 8 with Michael Koplow and November 15 with Sarah Tuttle-Singer.

A Note from Mike Hollander to our Am Shalom community

After a beautiful Shabbat dinner with all our kids and their partners, and close friends, celebrating our son in law’s clean bill of health, my wife Michele’s 60th birthday and the arrival of our first grandchild in January, I awoke early on Shabbat, the Festival of Simchat Torah. I saw over 40 notifications on my phone about what quickly seemed like an unprecedented level of violence along Israel’s Gaza border.

Within hours, as more and more information began to trickle out through Israeli media and personal stories, we quickly realized that we were in the midst of an unprecedented onslaught of evil of gargantuan, almost unfathomable proportions.

As many of you know, having stood with me along our borders with Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria, we live in a very difficult neighborhood. For 75 years we have grappled with the challenge of defending ourselves, while preparing (as much as possible) for any potential security scenario. At the same time, we have reached out to our neighbors to try to find a way to live together in peace.

Our children all served in the military and now are being drafted into the reserves. We are told of an additional 300,000 reserve soldiers who have been called up! Many of us are trying to figure out the needs of soldiers responding to the reserve call up (many are just going in without being called), as well as civilians who have abandoned their destroyed homes along the Gaza Strip.  Those of us not wearing a uniform are trying to assess the needs, and offer whatever help can be delivered.

So many friends and synagogues have reached out and we thank all of you. I have received countless texts, emails and phone calls from concerned friends all over the world. Your thoughts, prayers, virtual hugs and good wishes give us the much needed strength to continue to provide whatever support we can offer to those in need. After two days of shock and trying to grapple with what is happening, I’ve been inspired by my children, all of whom served in the IDF and one of whom is in the active reserves, to create a means to answer your questions of how you can help.

Both of my son’s units - the  669 Air Force Search and Rescue, and the Maglan special forces in the Commando Brigade - have non-profit organizations in the United States through which donations can be made that will be able to provide a tax receipt. If you would like to contribute to either of these units, please write to me and I will find out if there are any specific needs to be addressed.

In addition, our family is creating a fund that will provide immediate, direct help to reserve soldiers, families of soldiers, and civilians as soon as we receive the funds. Many reservists serve in battalions that are not organic, and aren’t part of a specific unit or brigade, and therefore don’t have the support of large units. They have been called up, but lack basic equipment. My kids - through their networks (their army units and friends in reserves) - are compiling lists of what is lacking - everything including undergarments, headlamps, hydration packs, gloves and rain gear, knee pads, etc. etc. We are not a non-profit organization, we are merely one family trying to help Israeli soldiers and civilians during this very trying time.

To expedite and simplify the process, donations can be made to the Israel Tzedakah Fund at Am Shalom. The money will be wired directly to our account in Israel. These funds will be used to deliver whatever aid we can, as soon as we can. This is meant to be our effort to do what we and our friends and family can.

Israel is a small country, but the Jewish people are a big family. We are in the midst of an unprecedented catastrophe, which I know will eventually end. However, in the meantime, we will endeavor to do whatever we can to help those in need.

Thanks for your support,

Mike and Michele Hollander
Tal and Yael Hollander
Adi and Stav Hollander-Gilad
Matan Hollander

Sat, December 2 2023 19 Kislev 5784