At the time these words are being written, the State of Israel plans to evacuate and dismantle settlements in the Gaza Strip, beginning the first phase of the “Gaza Disengagement Plan”.
The disengagement has been a matter of great contention amongst all Israelis, with strong opinions both for and against. To see thousands of people evacuated from their homes, schools and synagogues is heart wrenching. While at the same time, long term peace and security is also so strongly sought after. All Jews living in Israeli have been “engaged”, in one way or another, by the disengagement.
The stakes are very high. Put yourself in the shoes of a soldier who has been given the duty to remove families from their homes that they have built and lived in for years. Put yourself in the shoes of settlers who have manned the Israeli outposts so bravely for so many years. There is also the concern whether this historic move will achieve the desired results, or will it trigger further foreign pressure to make more concessions and cause greater security risks.
Though American Jews don’t share the daily fears of our Israeli brothers and sisters, we mustn’t let ourselves “disengage” from the Gaza disengagement.
In 1948, when Israel declared independence, there were only 650,000 Jews living in Israel. Today nearly a third of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel. Israel is a country surrounded by hostile neighbors, many of who would love to see the Jewish state wiped off the map. They’ve tried several times; thank G-d unsuccessfully. A safe and secure Israel is crucial, not only to the residents of Israel, but to the Jewish world at large. We must engage the disengagement and put in our fair share.
Here is how we, as American Jews, can make a difference:
From the beginning of our history, when G-d chose Abraham, and later took the Jews out of Egypt and gave them the Torah, up until the present, we have enjoyed a very special relationship with G-d.
In the short history of the State of Israel we have seen the strong hand of G-d bring about mighty miracles that have enabled the state’s survival. The astonishing victory in the Six Day War, and the remarkable lack of fatalities in the Gulf War, are but two obvious examples. If it is our relationship with G-d that has preserved and protected us until now, we must focus on strengthening that relationship.
In honor of the High Holidays, I encourage every Jew in our community, as well as everywhere in the world, to add in prayer, charity and performance of Mitzvot. In that merit we ask G-d to ensure security in the Land of Israel. Whether it may be the increase in charity, for women to light Shabbat candles and for men to put on Tefillin, or affixing Mezuzot on our homes, these Mitzvot have a powerful effect on us, and our brothers and sisters all over the world.
How does a small Mitzvah in Indiana have an effect thousands of miles away? Well, how does a tiny, poor country win battle over many large, strong and wealthy countries combined?
The answer lies in G-d’s commitment to us and, in turn, our commitment to Him.