This morning Israel woke up to a nightmare.
Hundreds of Israelis were murdered in their homes and on their streets. An almost unimaginable attack, which in the United States would be the equivalent of 10,000 civilians murdered. That’s like suffering through three times the devastation of 9/11.
This carnage took place on what should have been one of the happiest days of the year, Simchat Torah. This annual holiday is celebrated by Jews around the world as the ending and beginning of the cycle of Torah reading. It is a day of festivity and singing, drinking and dancing.
Fifty years ago Israel was attacked on the holiday of Yom Kippur. As I shared at our Yom Kippur services, it was a horrific war, and serves as a lesson for all of us, not just on a national level, but an individual one as well. The War of October 1973 came less than 30 years after the Holocaust ended, and just 25 years after Israel was established. Much has changed in that time. Unfortunately, too much has not.
Fifty years ago, Israel relied on the United States to send military supplies to turn the tide of the war. Fortunately, that will not be needed this time. And 50 years later the relationship between the United States and Israel is not only so much stronger, it is not solely based on military security.
Millions of Americans have traveled to Israel since and have seen firsthand the miracle of this both ancient and modern country. This country has stood with Israel through so much in the last decades, and the love that Israel has for the United States is unrivaled. Americans are part of the millions of people around the world who love Israel.
This past year I had the blessing of being there with Jews and Christians from Santa Clarita, leading a trip with my good friend the Rev. John Shaver, who used to serve as pastor for Valencia United Methodist Church. He was one of the first people to reach out, texting: “Praying for Israel and all the places we stepped and people we passed as I wake up this morning. Let the congregation know I’m in deep prayer for Israel and our world.”
At this time of year, we read from Ecclesiastes. A book that reminds us of the fragility of life, and the seasons and cycles that make up the human experience. As it says: “A time of war and a time of peace.” Today we are at war. Today, not just in Israel but around the world, the Jewish people will never again be terrorized without the ability to respond. In the coming days, there will be staggering devastation and horrific civilian deaths. Israel, as it always has, will try to minimize the loss of non-combatants, but an enormous human tragedy is unfolding.
We hope that the time of peace will come soon, but as Golda Meir reminded us 50 years ago after the Yom Kippur War:
“When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
The enemies of Israel today should remember that they will end up like all the enemies of Israel throughout history, defeated and destroyed.
We pray that this war will end soon, and we pray that it will be the last.
Am Yisrael Chai, the Nation of Israel Lives, the People of Israel Lives.
Rabbi Mark Blazer is the rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita.