קישור שלום ~ Kishur Sholom

Staying Connected with the Temple Sholom Community

28 May 2024 ~ 20 Iyyar 5784 ~ 35th Day of Omer

Parashat B'chukotai

Dear friends, chaveirim y'karim,

I am back in Israel for a brief visit. My stepdaughter, Nina, is completing basic training in the Israeli army and will have a significant ceremony on Thursday morning, during which she will receive the beret of her unit. She is in the combat unit Palchatz (פלח״ץ), which is "Search & Rescue" that is part of the Home Front Command. Her beret will be orange.

In Nina's words, the Israeli army loves ceremonies. There was the ceremony of her swearing in a few months ago and please God, there will be the ceremony when she completes commander's course in late November. If she goes on to officer training, there will be a ceremony for that ... but for now - it's the beret and the close of hachsharah (הכשרה ~ basic training) which is, as they say in Hebrew, a big deal (ביג דיל).

Indeed, the IDF does love a ceremony. And why shouldn't they? It is a major undertaking to create an effective, strong, and courageous army that has to defend against genocidal enemies on multiple fronts. These young men and women are putting their lives on the lines - and we see the reality and toll that takes in every daily news update. Needless to say that Amy hopes Nina will stay in training forever and never leave her base. But God bless Nina, she is working very hard, her friends and comrades-in-arms are dedicated and we pray they will make us all very proud.

But the news is rough and the reality on the ground is taxing. You will see a few links below addressing recent developments and perspectives on the war.

There are legitimate complaints against some of how Israel has prosecuted this war and its diplomacy. Over half of Israel would agree that Israel's current government has serious problems. But Netanyahu has stated, "Give us back the hostages and the war ends." The IDF is fighting in impossible terrain and preventing civilian death, which is far more than Hamas can possibly say as it uses its own citizens as human shields.

It is very difficult to read - let alone confront - how people do not understand what this war is about. I can hardly read The New York Times or The Washington Post. I've stopped listening to NPR. I know it is bad for me to turn of major news outlets and I should know what Americans are hearing about Israel and the war. But I can’t do it. I've become so angry at the inaccurate, biased reporting which seems neither to make no room for Israel nor a full understanding of the enemy. 

I have also become frustrated when people claim the Israeli army is the most moral army in the world. I know better. Of course, the Israeli army is very good, and I am so proud of the IDF’s Code of Ethics and their ability to fight to a higher standard than any other country in the world (particularly when it comes to urban warfare realities). Further - while fighting, they have secured massive humanitarian relief and given more than any other nation in the world to that relief. But the soldiers are human beings and there are moments when our soldiers let us down and do not follow the Code of Ethics. I wish that were not the case, but alas it happens. This has been part of Nina’s learning curve and I am grateful for her network of family and friends who can support her in these very difficult moments. Am I proud of the Israeli army? Yes. I am extremely proud of the army’s aspirations and grateful that the State of Israel aspires to uphold its Declaration of Independence. Is Israel perfect? No, it is not. And it is not perfect because of what others have done to us and what we have done to ourselves. 

The tension here is real. The concern about the hostages, the length of the war (which many say will go into 2026), the anger at the Netanyahu government - and anger at those who are angry at Netanyahu ... and yet, somehow life goes on. Building projects are underway as the light-rail continues to grow in Tel Aviv. I had the best schwarma of my life last night at dinner. Creative people find solutions for where to settle kibbutznikim in the heart of a city. And the army continues ceremonies.

On Sunday, when Amy and I got back from the beach in Tel Aviv we heard a few booms. In Tel Aviv, depending on the boom, it could be some kind of construction going on or it could be something more. This time was more. From Rafah, Hamas launched a barrage of missiles toward central Israel - namely Tel Aviv and its surroundings. All the missiles wound up passing Tel Aviv and were taken down by Israeli defense. Some shrapnel caused minor damage - no injuries. The red alerts (sirens) went off north and east of us. We were fine. But it's a reminder that while Israel is fighting and being wrongly accused of genocide, a death-cult, radical Islamic terror group continues to fight for the destruction of the Jewish presence and State.

I am incredibly grateful to be in Israel right now and deeply proud of the young men and women, like Nina, who bravely serve and are committed to defending the Jewish people and the Jewish State.

I've always been a patriot of the United States and of Israel. Knowing that yesterday marked America's Memorial Day, I stand in humility before those who have served and serve - and certainly before those families who have lost their loved ones in the protection of the values we hold dear as Americans and as Jews.

May God bless all those who serve in defense of liberty and liberal democracy. May God keep the armed forces of Israel strong and safe, effective in their missions and holding to the highest morals as set forth by law and the Jewish people.

Rabbi Mark Cohn


"But When There is a Real Genocide, They're Silent" (19 May 2024) by Rafael Medoff in The Jewish Journal.

"Jewish activist who fled Iran sees shades of the fall of the shah on US campuses" (22 May 2024) - an interview by Jordana Horn with Mandana Dayani in The Times of Israel.

"New study finds food supply to Gaza more than sufficient for population's needs" (24 May 2024) by Jeremy Sharon in The Times of Israel.

"A fateful road not taken: Netanyahu seems set to spurn Saudi normalization" (22 May 2024) by David Horovitz in The Times of Israel.

"Diplomatic Avalanche" (24 May 2024) on Call Me Back with Dan Senor.

"Can Zionism win?" (22 May 2024) on For Heaven's Sake: Israel at War with Rabbi Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi.

"Campus Protests, Antisemitism, and Western Values" (13 May 2024) on Making Sense with Sam Harris.


MILO'S MOJO: Classic Rock Favorites. Saturday, June 1 at 7 PM, JCC in Sherman. Learn more about the programs at the JCC here.


Psalm 121: Text // Melody

Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael: Text & Melody


Count with intention with Homer Simpson (!) at homercalendar.net. Download the MyOmer app and/or check out the website of Rabbi Simon Jacobson for meaningful reflections each day of the Omer.



MAY 31 (lay-led)

JUNE 7, 21

JULY 5, 19





Led by CJ Kelly


JUNE 1, 8*, 15, 22, 29

JULY 6*, 13, 20, 27

*Led by Rabbi Cohn

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