October 20, 2023
Two weeks after Hamas’s horrific attack on Israel, our shared pain over the lives so violently taken grows deeper each hour. The agony of bereaved families, the torment of those awaiting news of kidnapped loved ones, and the anguish of the survivors know no bounds. As we have always done in difficult times, we find solace in the words of our holy texts and in the embrace of those who open their arms and hearts to offer comfort and love.
Among those whose embraces we have felt so powerfully, few equal those of President Joe Biden, who, in this darkest hour, in word and deed has proven himself a true friend to Israel and the Jewish people. The President’s unequivocal expressions of support, his commitment of military aid, and his very presence in Israel this week have strengthened Israel emotionally and practically. We express our deepest gratitude for President Biden’s steadfast allyship.
We also appreciate the leadership President Biden has shown in working with Israel to address the humanitarian challenges in Gaza wrought by Hamas’s depraved leadership. We pray that the effort to bring in humanitarian aid to Gaza will reach those in need, ease the suffering of innocent Palestinians, and not be stolen by Hamas.
We call upon our allies in the public interest world, in the faith community, and all those in positions of influence to speak out more forcefully for the release of the nearly 200 Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas. Our responsibility to rescue hostages (Pidyon Shevuyim) is reflected in the words of our daily prayers that, rather than beseeching God to free the captive, asks for God to help us in doing so. Those with diplomatic, humanitarian, and interfaith connections around the globe must do the holy work of helping ensure the safe release of the babies, children, elderly, women, and all who have been forcibly taken from their homes and loved ones. In so doing, they can help bring a swifter end to the bloodshed of this war.
As we begin Shabbat, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Union for Reform Judaism
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman (she/her)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs (he/him)
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Erica Asch (she/her)
Rabbi Hara E. Person (she/her)
American Conference of Cantors
Cantor Seth Warner (he/him)
Rachel Roth (she/her)
Chief Operating Officer