In late-October I traveled to Israel as part of a mission to show support and to bear witness to the horrors of October 7.

The rollercoaster of emotions I experienced while there was formidable. On the one hand, I saw the aftermath of unspeakable devastation, including the destruction in Ofakim and evidence of the atrocities committed in kibbutz Be’eri. On the other hand, I heard stories of remarkable bravery and ingenuity, and met individuals whose actions helped save many lives.

I later stopped to think about what these individuals had in common. They included religious and secular, older and younger, some who were geographically close and those who traveled to where they felt they should be. In short, they were a cross-section of Israelis who shared a heroic and unifying objective: to do their best to help those in need at a moment of crisis.

“ It is our differences that make us stronger”

I arrived in New York on October 29 for my connecting flight to Israel. As I entered the airport, I stopped to look around at my fellow passengers. There were Jews of every conceivable background. Yet almost immediately, as we all shlepped the additional supplies we’d brought with us, we were united in a sense of shared purpose. Despite our differences, everyone was there to support Israel in whatever way possible at this difficult time.

In our own modest way, our school has also risen to the challenge of responding to the situation in Israel. (For more on this, see page 10.) Among other things, in November, with the assistance of UJA, we were proud to send a contingent of 150 students and staff to the massive rally in Washington DC. This event was remarkable for the extraordinarily wide range of participants, with Jews of every political stripe and level of observance, and allies from many other faiths and communities, all showing up.

Bringing Jews of different stripes together is something TanenbaumCHAT does really well. By virtue of our ethos of acceptance and tolerance, respect of varying worldviews and Jewish observance, and wide-ranging programming, within the context of our Jewish community we proudly gather together a remarkably pluralistic student body. I’m convinced it is actually our very differences that help make our school community cohesive and strong.

TanenbaumCHAT’s unifying objective is clear and irrefutable. Locally, we are laying
foundations of mutual respect, shared purpose, and commitment to Jewish values. It is our hope that through this, we are also helping to perpetuate a strong global Jewish community that will stand for peace, and that will be there for Israel and for Jews everywhere.

Now more than ever, the future is in our hands.

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