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May 28, 2024

Dear Elyse,

For me, the Jewish holidays serve as signposts, measurements of my days and memories that help me connect my own lived experiences to the greater community and world around me.

This year, our Simchat Torah was shattered by the unthinkable violence of the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas on October 7. In the month ahead, we are likely to be celebrating Shavuot in a world in which Israel and Hamas are still at war in Gaza and in which dozens of hostages remain held in captivity for over 230 days.

Just as in October, it may be hard to celebrate our sacred festival in the midst of so much trauma, violence, anger, and sadness. And yet, if there was ever a time to be together, it would be during our sacred times, Shavuot most of all. This holiday commemorates the giving and receiving of Torah, the moment in our collective ancestry where we became a people bound by ideals, traditions, faith, and family.

Each year, we celebrate this holiday by learning together, often through the night and into the early morning hours. This year, I would challenge each of us to learn something new on Shavuot, to try on another perspective or point of view, to put aside the weight of everything we have been carrying for just a few hours, learn together in joy with one another, and then pick up our burdens renewed, re-inspired, and recommitted to creating a safe, secure, and equitable place for our Jewish community within our region and beyond.

Kol tuv,

Rabbi Scott Shafrin,

Executive Director

Israel Insights

UNRWA at the Crossroads:

Charting a Course to Meaningful Reform

Israel Policy Forum

While there are no easy resolutions for the war in Gaza, there are ideas about how to conclude the war to meet Israel's short and long-term goals, as well as broader goals for the region.

Chief Policy Officer Dr. Michael Koplow and Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Senior Director of Policy Research Dr. Shira Efron offer recommendations for U.S. policymakers seeking to advance a viable future for Gaza upon the war’s conclusion. Guided by the overarching objective of preventing a power vacuum, Hamas resurgence, or long-term Israeli occupation, Michael and Shira outline a plan for a multi-year post-war interim phase for Gaza, facilitated by U.S.-led international and regional coalitions and with the involvement of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Click Here to Read the Report

Israel's 9/11: College Campus Turmoil

Center for Israel Education

Anti-Israel demonstrations on college campuses in North America and Europe have often crossed the line from free speech to anti-Jewish harassment. Beyond ignoring or even endorsing the killing of 1,200 Israelis and others in the Hamas-led terrorist attack of Oct. 7 and the continued captivity of some 130 hostages, these protest movements reflect long-term efforts by national organizations and foreign governments to tilt the university discourse toward a pro-Palestinian narrative, regardless of facts or history.

Addressing protest sources, community separation from campuses, and perils from skewed scholarship to academic boycotts are Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Joanna Mendelson of the Jewish Federation Los Angeles and Dr. Jonathan Rynhold of Bar-Ilan University. Moderating the discussion is Dr. Ken Stein, CIE’s president and an Emory University emeritus professor of Middle East history, political science and Israel studies. 

Click Here to View This and Past Webinars

Call on Your Representatives

There are multiple bills being floated to bring attention to the surge of both antisemitism and hatred in general throughout our communities. Here are two bills that could use our support:

  • The Improving Reporting to Prevent Hate Act would ensure greater accuracy in reporting acts of hate and swifter enforcement.
  • The Countering Antisemitism Act marshals new resources to tackle antisemitic threats, rhetoric, and acts of violence and creates an official government position which would coordinate with top elected leaders to implement the historic White House National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

We must ensure these bills are advanced into law and make sure offices of our elected officials are hearing from our community about the necessity of these bills to keep the Jewish community safe. 

The three most important things you can do right now are:

  1. Call your House member with the number and script below. 
  2. Click here and take a few minutes to call additional key Representatives to urge them to vote for this bill. 
  3. Forward this message to friends and family and ask them to join you in calling. 
Prayer for the Welfare and Return of Those Still Captured and Missing
Names of Those Still Held Captive (Updated 5/17/2024)

Israel In the News

The War Deepens, Israel Advances into Rafah

As the war between Israel and Hamas nears it's eighth month, fighting has deepened in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with several tragic incidents in the past week. Additionally, the international community cried out after many in a refugee encampment were inadvertently killed during one of these attacks. The war continues to take a large toll on Israeli society, its people, and all who live in the region, as well as Jewish and Muslim communities worldwide, which continue to see spikes in hate crimes and bias.

Further Reading:

Opportunities to Support Israel

Donate to the Israel Emergency Fund through the Jewish Federation of St. Louis


Urge your elected officials at the federal, state, and local level to speak out and make a clear and unequivocal statement in support for our ally Israel and its right to defend itself

Click Here To Contact Local Officials
Israel At War Resource Page
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