Summer should be a time for Jewish unity and saving Jewish lives
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Guest columnistViolence in Israel should spark collaboration among Jews

Summer should be a time for Jewish unity and saving Jewish lives

All Jews, no matter what their political views, religious ideas or countries of residence, must support efforts to care for those Jews who need medical attention.

Karma Feinstein-Cohen
Israeli firefighters extinguish a fire in a wheat field caused from kites flown by Palestinian protesters, near the border with the Gaza Strip, May 30, 2018. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli firefighters extinguish a fire in a wheat field caused from kites flown by Palestinian protesters, near the border with the Gaza Strip, May 30, 2018. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Working for Jewish unity should have been an imperative for Jews the world over this summer. All summer long Islamic terrorists in Gaza have been sending incendiary kites in order to set fire to Israeli farmland and forests. The terrorists have also been launching barrages of missiles aimed at Israeli civilian neighborhoods. One firebomb balloon landed in the yard of a kindergarten in the southern Israeli moshav of Tkuma. All of this while the Jewish people were in the midst of the very season when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple.

To make matters worse, there were reports of Jews in the United States and in Britain seemingly showing more concern for our adversaries than our fellow Jews. News headlines about Kaddish being recited for Hamas terrorists, Birthright participants being led off tours to learn about “the occupation,” and Jewish summer camp counselors conspiring to teach their campers the Palestinian narrative seemed all too frequent this summer.

That is why the news that a Magen David Adom ambulance was donated by a coalition of synagogues in suburban Philadelphia was especially encouraging and heartwarming to hear just before Tisha B’Av.

Unfortunately, at this time, Israelis need to know that Magen David Adom ambulances must be depended upon once again to save the lives of Jews.

The Talmud Bavli in Sanhedrin 37a states: “Anyone who saves the life of one of the children of Israel, the verse ascribes him credit as if he saved an entire world.”

The season when we mourn the destruction of the Temple is a time each year when we are reminded that the Jewish people lost our sovereignty and our homeland because of baseless hatred and infighting. Because we could not and would not show concern for one another, Jerusalem was destroyed and taken from us.

This ambulance effort was so inspiring in part because it involved multiple synagogues from Reform to Orthodox. The fact that Jews cared enough about Israelis to spend their time and money on emergency equipment is a perfect tikkun olam (repair of the world). The Talmud introduces the Aramaic phrase, kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh, meaning all of Israel are responsible for each other.

This is a lesson one would have hoped that we had learned in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Israel’s enemies work every day to destroy her. Through its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies, Iran has as its main objective to murder Jews and complete the work that Hitler and the Nazis began.

All Jews, no matter what their political views, religious ideas or countries of residence, must support efforts to care for those Jews who need medical attention.

Jewish unity is of the utmost importance and this most recent of ambulance donations beautifully showed that it can be a reality. Far too many of us who feel strongly one way or the other about the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria often find ourselves in near endless political debate about these and related matters, and so we forget to pause when something happens that we should all celebrate.

Sure, one can think that one Israeli ambulance can’t change the world. It seems to me that ancient Jewish wisdom would disagree with that view.

Today’s Jews should not allow our differences of opinion to stop the vital work that needs to be done, which we know too often has happened in our past. One way to make things better may be for Zionist organizations to spend less time enthusiastically pointing out what some other organization is doing wrong and instead concentrate some attention on trying to catch other Jews doing something right.

We should all hope to see many more projects that include Jews of all backgrounds and that have such an important focus as the effort to save Jewish lives. PJC

Karma Feinstein-Cohen is the executive director of World Herut, an international movement for Zionist pride and education. Follow the Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter for the latest stories.

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