A Message from Rabbi Sam Levine: The War in Israel (with Zoom sessions and a support opportunity)

October 10, 2023


  1. Action Items: two zoom sessions and another support opportunity
  2. A message from the rabbi

Action Items:

Aside from the mass rally tonight on 47th Street opposite the UN (gathering at 4:30, rally beginning at 5pm), there are two Zoom opportunities early this afternoon that you should be aware of.

The first is a presentation by former Prime Minister Naftali Bennet sponsored by UJA Federation. It will take place from 12-1pm. You can sign up here:


The second is a presentation by Middle East expert Neil Lazarus, an internationally acclaimed commentator and educator on Middle East politics. This was arranged for us by our shaliach Elad bar Ilan and will take place at 1:30 pm. You can join here:


Meeting ID: 836 5388 8562

Passcode: 442313

These presentations will give you expert perspective from two very different angles on where the situation stands now. I hope you’ll be able to join in.

Also, another excellent donation option: HelptheIDF is committed to providing comprehensive support and resources to Israeli soldiers, ensuring they have access to everything necessary for their missions and well-being. Please contact Kami for more information 1-516-660-4305.


Dear friends,

As we learn more about the events of the Hamas attack, our shock increases. The “autopsy” report on how such a thing was permitted to happen will shake the political landscape in Israel. How it will shake it, and where the blame will fall, remains to be seen. And pulling the lens back a bit, we have been watching for some years now a re-shaping of the Middle East; we have just witnessed a seismic shift in that story.

In Israel, the reports of the merciless brutality, the savagery of the terrorists, are too much to bear. And to add insult to injury, some in the media, not to mention thousands of “pro-Palestinian demonstrators” here in the US – in New York! – have fed the public a narrative of moral equivalency. It’s like saying “9/11 was justified because of American foreign policy.” Let’s be crystal clear about something: Hamas is an Islamo-fascist organization, no different than ISIS or Al Qaeda. As the ruling power in Gaza, Hamas is, in fact, the Islamo-fascist government of an Islamo-fascist state, and the thousand-plus “terrorists” who invaded Israel are the de-facto army of that state. This was not a hapless band of suicidal nihilists – it was a well-supplied and highly trained and organized militia. Their larger aim is still opaque – what did they possibly hope to accomplish with this attack? But on a smaller scale, they succeeded in showing Israel and the world what happens when a collective of humans loses all semblance of humanity and is reduced to the basest level of existence. They did not invade to engage the Israeli army; they did not invade with any hope of “freeing Palestine”; they did not invade to make life better for their people, many of whom loathe them, and whose already-miserable lives are about to get much more miserable. They invaded to kill Israeli children, torture families, maim, kidnap, burn alive, and kill some more. They don’t seek peace of any kind – they seek only brutal annihilation. This is raw, naked terrorism.

That some of our own neighbors here in New York (and around the country and the world)  would celebrate and applaud Hamas’ genocidal action shows the level to which even those blessed with privilege and security can sink. Much can be (and has been) said about Israeli policy toward Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. That situation is extraordinarily complex, with plenty of blame to go around on all sides. But nothing could ever excuse what we have seen over the past three days.

As I consider scenes out of Ukraine, where Russian forces, too, have acted with utter barbarity and depravity, I cannot help but shudder at what appears to be a global zeitgeist of inhuman cruelty. All the more reason, once again, to check ourselves, double down on our sense of justice and morality, and battle the malign forces that so degrade and debase the nobility of human potential. Let’s turn to our tradition which, in its highest aspirations, seeks to raise up humankind to the level of God; just as God is merciful and compassionate, so should we be merciful and compassionate (Shabbat 133b). It’s easy to pray that that the perpetrators of this unimaginable crime be brought to justice, one way or another, and that the stain of Hamas and its ilk be removed, once and for all, from the fabric of a moral universe. It’s harder to pray that the innocent, even those who cheered our destruction, be left unharmed, and that is where the real work of living our values begins. May we find the strength to do the latter even as our people, with Godspeed, carry out the former.