Our hearts are broken but our faith is unwavering; in these difficult days we are mourning the deaths of over 1,400 of our Israeli family and many international citizens in the horrific terrorist attacks on Israelis and global citizens on October 7th; we are advocating and praying for the over 200 kidnapped Israelis being held unlawfully by Hamas. It is in these times when we come together to stand in unwavering solidarity with Israel and with all the victims of this terrible attack and ongoing war, to stand unified in the face of hatred and to proclaim our love and pride as Jews and as Conservative/Masorti Jews.
“Od lo avdah tikvateinu…”
These words from the Israeli national anthem, translate as “we have still not lost our hope..the hope of 2,000 years, to be a free people in our own land.” It is so easy to forget what a miracle the Modern State of Israel truly is. No matter our political beliefs, whether we consider ourselves left or right, we need to strengthen our ties to Israel. We need to educate ourselves. We need to passionately engage in Israel’s challenges and Israel’s successes. We need to commit our support to the growing Conservative/Masorti movement in Israel.
It is our sacred task to take advantage of the many opportunities available to educate our people on the important issues of the day, strengthen their ties to the State of Israel and its citizens, and enhance our capabilities to assist those members of our own Movement who make Israel their home.
-Rabbi Newman Kamin
October 19, 2023
Last week when I wrote to you I had no words to express everything I was feeling. This week I have so much to say but I am only going to focus on one thing.
Last Friday night our Cantors led a beautiful service where we added prayers and songs for Israel. I was struck by how many prayers there are about peace, many set to lovely melodies. None of those prayers, I believe, speaks to the moment we are in. We also have many prayers asking God to defeat our enemies. None of those have catchy tunes.
The only thing I want to pray for is the captives to be returned, the families that are mourning their dead stay with us in the land of the living, and for the Israeli Defense Forces to be successful in defeating Hamas.
I often have thought about the moral clarity our parents and grandparents had during World War II in fighting the Nazis. I grew up only with misguided wars: Vietnam, Israel’s war in Lebanon, and the Iraq War (once I found out we were lied to.) This is the first time in my life I am experiencing clear moral clarity that Hamas must be defeated. There are many prayers for peace and calls for an immediate cease fire. Most of these people who are issuing these calls are not our friends to say the least.
We are not living through what Israel is living through. We go to bed each night knowing we will not have to run to a shelter with our children. Most of us have not only family and friends in Israel, but have friends and family members who are serving the IDF. But we do have our own burdens to bear. We need to watch the media reports that very often give a false narrative to what is happening in Israel and we want to scream and cry and tear our hair out. But bear it we must. We can not let what the media says in the days to come allow our support for Israel to waver.
We are a community in deep mourning. I am available to speak or zoom to any of you that need that. You will not be surprised to learn that I think you will find comfort attending our services. One of our members told me he is going to start coming to services because if we don’t Hamas wins. I really don’t believe the other side wins if we don’t attend but I deeply believe we lose.
We just finished reading the Book of Devarim. Everytime we end one of the books of the Torah we call to each other Hazak Hazak V’Nethazak. Be strong, be strong and be strengthed.
Rabbi Newman Kamin
October 9, 2023
My Dear Congregants,
I know many of you look to me to provide words. Words of comfort, words of encouragement or words of what should happen next. But there is no comfort, no encouragement for what Israel is going through right now. I have spent the last two days either watching the news or scrolling through Facebook. So I have seen the faces of loved ones lost or maybe even worse carried into captivity. The depravity, the barbarism of Hamas is hard to comprehend. Our family and friends’ children are already called up for reserve duty. I have spent the last two days crying.
The only words are the ancient words of our tradition. This past Shabbat and Simchat Torah, we completed the reading of Devarim. And we wished each other Hazak, Hazak V’nitchazak. Be strong and be strengthened. We will all need a lot of strength to withstand the days ahead.
As people of action we want to know what we can do. Here are two ways you can do something immediately. Please join me at the Community Solidarity Gathering tomorrow.
Rabbi Newman Kamin
Tuesday: Community Solidarity Gathering—Rain or Shine
JUF is hosting a community-wide solidarity gathering, rain or shine, Tuesday, October 10 at 10 a.m. at NSCI, 1185 Sheridan Road in Glencoe. We will hear from Jewish community leaders, elected officials and representatives from the State of Israel. More information about parking will be provided shortly; no large bags or signs will be allowed.
Ongoing: JUF Israel Emergency Fund
JUF opened an Israel Emergency Fund to funnel vital support from our community to the Israeli people, who are reeling from the most traumatic events in its 75 years of statehood.
Click below to watch as Rabbi Newman Kamin is honored by the Rabbinical Assembly.
Click here to watch the video.
Below you will find a selection of Rabbi Newman Kamin’s sermons, classes and articles.
Watch the Rabbi’s Zoom Online class on the Rosh Hashanah machzor:
At Tu B’Shvat time, you can learn about Judaism and the environment from Rabbi Newman Kamin’s online class.
First Session recorded on September 26 2016
Second Session Recorded on September 28