This message was received earlier today from our colleague Mauricio Balter, who stepped out of the shelter in the basement of his apartment building in Kiryat Bialik (in Haifa's northern suburbs) to send a note (which I have translated from Hebrew) about how he and his congregation are faring at the moment.
- Rabbi Peretz Rodman (father of Eliav, who will lead High Holiday services at Amherst)
This past Friday, in a service that highlighted prayers for the kidnapped IDF soldiers, our congregation also observed "Inductees' Shabbat," with more than 180 people present.
As we do each year in our congregation, we invited all the young members who will be inducted into the IDF in the coming year for an evening honoring them. Thirty-six young men and women came with their families to receive the congregation's wellwishes.
Each inductee received a siddur, a gift certificate from a store that sells camping supplies of the sort that new soldiers need, a certificate of appreciation from the congregation, and a carry-bag from Bank Hapo`alim.
At the same evening service, 39 members of the congregation currently serving in the IDF were also honored. They received gift certificates to Steimatsky, the bookstore chain, made possible by generous support from the Bet El Congregation of Mexico City and Temple Aliya of Needham, Massachusetts.
All those present recited the prayer for the kidnapped soldiers penned by Rabbi Simha Roth (Masorti rabbi of Herzliya). In addition to hearing a short sermon from me, the congregation was addressed by a young soldier from the congregation, an Argentinian oleh named Pablo Nakav, who recently received an "outstanding soldier" decoration from the President of Israel; from Kiryat Bialik's mayor, Dr. Rafi Wertheim; MK Yisrael Hasson, a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and of our congregation; and Moshe Cohen, Masorti Movement chairman.
Both Pablo Nakav and a congregant honored by Israel's President for his volunteer activities, Manuel Fishman, received certficates of honor from the congregation.
That was Friday night. Now, our congregation is operating an emergency hotline for Spanish-speakers (who may need assistance understanding announcements and procedures in the present emergency) and a spiritual support hotline for Hebrew speakers.
We are OK, and so far all are holding up well. Barukh Ha-shem, we know why we are here in Israel and what the importance of this country is.
"May the Lord grant His people strength; may the Lord bless his people with peace"
has never been a more immediately relevant verse.
Many thanks for your calls and e-mails. They do help us
a great deal.
Rabbi Mauricio Balter